Mightily tossed about

"... but (he) emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in human likeness." Philippians 2.7


"Mightily tossed about" is the description applied to 16th century clergyman Thomas Becon. Hardly a household name in our day, he is well known among historians of the age such as Jonathan Reimer. Though academically and professionally undistinguished, Becon's appeal is his extraordinary success as a writer of devotional best-sellers. This places him among the rare - elite? - band of Christian communicators who manage to get through to their audience. It therefore means that, in getting to grips with the style and content of his literary work, we gain insights into the mindset of our Christian forebears of the Elizabethan era.


Becon hailed from Norfolk and completed his education at Cambridge University, where he was converted through the preaching of Hugh Latimer and the teaching of George Stafford. Thereafter Becon's fortunes ebbed and flowed according to the exchange of monarchs and their religious preferences. At least twice he was forced to recant and he spent significant intervals imprisoned in the Tower of London and in exile on the continent of Europe. These experiences appear to have galvanised his faith and stiffened his resolve - to the improvement both of his employment prospects and his writing output - while his experiences of being "mightily tossed about" must have quickened his understanding of human nature and his ability to communicate with his fellow human beings.


Of course our ultimate example is God himself, who made the greatest sacrifice, in abandoning heaven and laying down his own life in order that we should know him and that he should open the way to eternal life. In this way Jesus restores all relationships - with God, with creation, with each other, within ourselves even: our vicissitudes being replaced by his stability.

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