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Jack Bowdler
Jack Bowdler: accident prone, but adorable nonetheless

This article that I wrote earlier in the year appeared in the latest edition of St Paul’s Ealing church magazine published recently:

There’s a song we sing at church and every time I hear the first few bars of it, I wince a little.

It’s called Reckless Love and, like many modern church songs, it’s heavy on emotion and light on Biblical exposition, so for an old traditionalist such as myself, I find myself mumbling the words.

In particular, there’s a line in this song where it talks about God being prepared to kick down a wall for us, such is his reckless love. It’s a strong image, of that there is no doubt, but I’ve always felt that line a bit… human. It’s what people might do, not God.

Recently, I took my family on holiday to Turkey. One morning as we were leaving the hotel room to go out to breakfast, myself, my wife and my seven-year-old daughter calmly walked out, but as our backs were turned, my four-year-old son, Jack, shut the door. No problem. Use the key card to get back in. Unfortunately, as he shut the door, Jack turned the internal lock to the ‘lock’ position, and we couldn’t get back in. We were on one side of the door, he was on the other.

My mind started to race. There was a balcony in the room, we were three floors up and I just felt an overwhelming sense of dread. I tried to use the key card in the door gap to try to wedge the lock open – that old trick – but it was a fruitless exercise. At that point all I wanted to do was… kick down the door.

You see where I am going with this. The thing is, we are God’s children. That reckless love the writer is describing is not a lofty unrelatable love that lives in the clouds, it’s a beautiful, human, down-in-the-mud-and-guts love that wrenches God’s heart. He’ll bust down that door for you, no question.

The irony is that when I returned home one of the first songs we sang at church was… Reckless Love. Now, I belt it out with embarrassing verve. No more mumbling, for me.

So, I suppose you want to know what happened to my son? Well, a member of the hotel staff opened the adjoining room, climbed on to the balcony, on to the roof, back down on to our balcony, opened the door from the inside of our room and let Jack out.

Pretty simple really, and no real drama. Two days earlier Jack fell six feet into an empty, hard-tiled swimming pool when our backs were turned. But that’s another story…