I sat on the back row of the bus. It was our first away match and we were hard. Me and Yoz. The heart of the Under 14's scrum in September 1983.
Yoz had brought his tape recorder (if you're under 40 you'll need to consult Wikipedia to find out what this is. It's like an Mp3 player but different!) He put on "Blue Monday" by New Order and we stamped on the floor to the beat. I felt indestructible. Mainly because I was a 6 foot tall, 13 1/2 stone 13 year old!
I don't feel quite so indestructible this morning. The lyrics of that classic hit of the 80's summarise my mood much more than it's rhythmic tune. In fact I just listened to it (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYH8DsU2WCk) to recapture the moment on the back row of the Barnes bus. The result is that my head ache is a bit worse now.
As with all the best songs, the band never explained what it's about. It remains an enigma. But I can recognise many of the thoughts that I have when I am feeling down. Thoughts that are very often disconnected with reality.
Because Blue Mondays are quite common for pastors. I think mine wasn't helped by the man at the church I was preaching at yesterday morning, who greeted me with a cheery smile and once he'd established that I was the new pastor at Chessington said to me, "I hear that numbers are really down there."
Even without the encouragement of others, pastors can become unhelpfully introspective. Often failing to listen to their own preaching about looking to Christ for security, purpose and joy. Monday's are especially bad, because the hangover of emotional exhaustion from the day before, combined with a glance at a full diary for the week to come, leaves some with a strong desire to get straight back into bed.
Here is what has helped me this morning:
1. Repeating to myself that my feelings do not reflect the reality of what I have in Christ.
2. A wonderful wife who bore with me and charged around so that I could get out the house and walk the dog. Then texted me to encourage me to preach the gospel to myself.
3. Forcing myself to read the Bible and pray.
4. Then praying with realism. Talking to the Lord about the way I feel, whilst thanking him for the blessings that are mine in Christ.
5. Drinking lots of water!
I think this is largely what Paul is urging the Philippian Christians to do in Philippians 4:4-7 (without the wife and water!).
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Find joy in the Lord Jesus at all times. Find peace in trusting God with your concerns about the future whilst thanking Him for all he has done for you.
Maybe I'll try some Depeche Mode next.