I know ‘diddly squat’ about cycling in the Cotswolds, but GPS got me there. Fortunately, there were cycle tracks alongside the busy main roads out of Oxford, where we enjoyed some quality family time. Almost as idyllic as our Ayrshire hills and valleys the rolling Cotswolds were a pleasure to pedal.

Jeremy Clarkson was nowhere to be seen, though pinned signs warned of impending filming. I popped into the tiny farm shop for amusement, and recorded a 60 second sermon, but didn’t hang around in case Jeremy wanted a selfie with Rev Nelwood.

Whatever you think of the controversial former ‘Top Gear’ presenter, Clarkson is a genius with his hilarious attempt to become a successful farmer on film. He couldn’t have found a more descriptive name for his farm & docufilms, ‘Diddly Squat’. The fact that such a seeming ‘know-it-all’ knows absolutely zilch, nada, diddly squat about farming, infuses each episode with side-splitting moments, particularly when his ignorance, pride and independent streak are exposed by his advisors Kaleb, Charlie & Gerald. Twice I’ve rolled on our manse floor almost unconscious with loss of breath from laughing.

Clarkson illustrates how hard it is to farm in these challenging times, declared by  The National Farmer’s Union as Farming Champion of the Year, acting as “a vocal champion for the British farming industry”. In contrast the West Oxfordshire District Council seem to have a high dose of jealousy, and I-disease, in their opposition to Clarkson’s entrepreneurial attempts to grow farming partnerships to feed his shop and restaurant.

The self-effacing humility of naming his farm ‘Diddly Squat’ appeals to me. The longer you live and know in life the more you realise you don’t know. As a young green-horn minister and shepherd of the Fullarton flock, 34 years ago I thought I ‘knew it all’ and considered myself well in the know of God and God things. How wrong I was and the fact that I’m still here in Irvine is testament to the forgiveness of Fullarton folk and their willingness to change, try new things and grow more ‘in God’. Job, in the Bible, was a righteous and wise man, but it took a blast of God’s creative glory to take Job deeper into God’s mystery and majesty. Suddenly Job realised that he really knew ‘Diddly Squat’.

But, as Clarkson’s Farm illustrates, ‘Diddly Squat’ is a good place to start! Presently you may find yourself humbled, even humiliated, in life. There is so much anxiety and fear around.  Jesus tells us that it’s a good thing when we’re at the end of our rope (poor in spirit), for there is where God can be found (God’s Kingdom). Here’s how Chris Muglia’s beautiful worship song puts it:

Come, all you wounded and weary. Come, all you heavy of heart.

Come with your fear and your burden. Come with your pain and your scars.

Come to the ocean of mercy. Be revived, renewed, and refreshed.

Wherever you are, no matter how far, come, find your peace and your rest.

You are welcome here; come as you are.

You are welcome here, with open arms.

Bring your burdens, bring your pain, bring your sorrow and shame.

You are welcome here; come as you are.

Come, all you tired and lonely, all you anxious who long for your place.

Bring your addictions and battles; find your forgiveness and strength.

Open your heart; discover your place and your purpose.

Open your eyes; see the new life that awaits you here.

You are welcome here; come as you are. (x3)

Friends, ‘Diddly Squat’ can be a great place to journey from.