Conquering Conkers and Flickering Futures

A meagre collection, but stumbling across conkers on a recent outing brought disproportionate joy.

My joy, rather than the boys who have yet to recognise horse-chestnut fun. I remember Autumnal Saturdays gathering hordes of potential ‘winners’ from the towering tree across the road from our house. Buckeyes, as they’re called here, are few and far between around us and Americans have yet to embrace the simple delight of attempting to crack your opponent’s conker as it swings on a string in front of you. Friends are bemused as I attempt to explain a game that sounds like I’m encouraging my children to hit one another with a hard, round object.

Myths abound as to how to make your conker harder than everyone else’s – roasting, soaking in vinegar, freezing them, painting them with clear nail varnish or even – dubiously I think – filling them with glue. And then there’s that seemingly accumulative strengthening that seems to come about with every triumphant win as one conker knocks out the other. Hours were spent in our Dorset kitchen attempting to ensure victory at the school the following week.

An ongoing question that flickers in and out of my thinking at the moment is how to invest for the future. Conker concerns have long gone, and more adult realities weigh on us but its eternity that has been on my mind. It sounds intense, but if Jesus speaks truth then our timelines go beyond the here and now, and on into life after death. And, amazingly, things of now can be of eternal worth. While our world will eventually disappear, people will not and sowing gospel seeds now, cultivating and investing as much as possible in those around us can bear lasting fruit.

As we seek to point our boys to eternity, praying that they would be good soil – as Mark the gospel writer describes it – I’m aware of conversations, questions, time spent and examples given. As I read the Bible with individuals, I’m praying that they would be rivers rather than lakes and would be eager to sow the seed in others rather than sit on it for themselves alone. As I look at the crowd of women at bible study, I’m wondering how we can be investing in each other for the future, growing leaders, disciple-makers and people who are eager to speak truth in love and so see God mightily at work in and through them in a way that lasts into eternity.

But these are the things that flicker in and out, the every day continues. Today was filled with prayers that Rufus would go to his new preschool without fuss, and Aldi filled my morning and pleasingly stocked the fridge, and the laundry, as ever, needs sorting.

But even amidst the mundane, as crumbs and cornflakes are scattered during breakfast and chores crowd in, that flickering thought of eternity reminds me that big stuff might just be tucked into that brief conversation, snatched chat or a 3 year old’s question.

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