In Linden the other week Chris was introducing our new teaching series on David beginning with how David came to be anointed. It's a familiar story: Samuel, the prophet, is told by God to go to a certain house and to anoint the future king. On arriving there he is greeted by the man of the house, Jesse, who brings out each of his seven sons in turn. But Samuel rejects them all. At last he asks Jesse if he has any more sons and the man replies, 'There is the youngest but he is tending the sheep.' Samuel asks for him to be sent for and, of course, it's David, he's the one and the story continues.
Chris focused on why David wasn't included in the original line-up. He was the youngest, yes, but he was also from a different mother and it's believed that she had previously been a concubine to an enemy king. He was different. Not one of the chosen ones. Less favoured even by his father, who didn't think to summon him until told to. Chris' point was that God chooses the unexpected, the unlikely candidates.
A few years ago nobody, least of all me, would have expected to see me up the front in Zac's leading sometimes raucous bible studies and throwing out offenders, being praised for my confidence and trusted enough to do it.
How to explain it? Trust, respect, encouragement, having someone believe in me. It makes such a difference, imbuing with a sense of belonging, of wanting to serve.
I'd spent the first two thirds of that particular Linden meeting feeling edgy, irritated, angry with myself for my emotions, thinking, what am I doing here? This isn't where I belong. Feeling I suppose, like U2, that I still hadn't found what I was looking for. Cross with myself because it's not supposed to be about me.
Then Chris spoke and I remembered, as a young girl, watching television in the front room, my mum, my nan, my great-gran, auntie Connie and her daughter, all engrossed in the Sunday afternoon musical. Then auntie Connie sent me to the kitchen to fetch something. She didn't send her own daughter but me. And there and then I was reminded of my place. I was the one who didn't quite belong, the illegitimate child, the one who was absorbed by the family for my mum's sake but I wasn't the same as the rest.
Okay, it's not child abuse. Don't get me wrong: I had an excellent upbringing as part of a loving family. But I always felt like an outsider. Part of it but not exactly. A bit like I feel at Linden, which is why it's so wonderful to have found a place at Zac's.