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  • Writer's pictureRoss Moughtin

To be rickrolled by God

I know that this is an outrageous claim to make but I think I was rickrolled before anyone else. At the very least I was in the first cohort. Rickrolled? I’m sure you will be aware that Rick Astley’s 1987 rock anthem Never Gonna Give You Up has passed one billion views on YouTube. Yes, one billion: i.e. 1,002,289,643 just now. You can check for yourself: It was one of my daughters who alerted me to this astonishing achievement. Actually she was alerting not me but her older sister through our family Messenger chat group, knowing that her older sister avidly followed Rick in her teenage years. This meant that in the late 1980’s, as a father with teenagers daughters Rick’s singing - whether I liked it or not - became part of my life. It would be all quiet and then suddenly Never gonna give you up Never gonna let you down Never gonna run around and desert you. Fittingly this would often happen as we drove along the East Lancs Road, through the Anglo-Saxon settlement of Astley as a battery of Walkmen in the back of our car would spring into life. At the time I thought that Rick’s hit single would quietly pass into history, but how wrong can you be? One billion. In fact, the man himself is celebrating this remarkable achievement by releasing a limited edition in blue vinyl, each individually signed, all 2500 of them. All sold out already! Why one billion? In fact, my family won’t like me saying this but the secret is in the song’s very naffness. It’s all the result of rickrolling, the art of tricking someone to click a hyperlink that leads straight to Rick’s performance on YouTube. At the very least it can lighten up the darkest Zoom meeting. One moment it is all very earnest and exhausting, then suddenly Rick appears in the waiting room. Next moment, everyone is singing Never gonna give you up! This may even happen in the public space. Here is a great example from a major US baseball match (they loved it): And rickrolling is now huge. To quote CurlyWurlyo just now: “Humanity as a whole has experienced the Rick roll over 1 billion times.” However, the man himself is unfazed by this second bout of fame. Apparently Rick finds it "bizarre and funny" and that his only concern is that his "daughter doesn't get embarrassed about it." For me that would be a bonus, payback time for all the times they have rickrolled me! Rickrolling is a technique which God knows well. Around the time of Rick’s hit I was driving along Manchester Road pondering a particular concern, a low-grade worry. As I approached the Slattocks Roundabout, God spoke Suddenly out-of-the-blue: “You do your best; I’ll do mine!” And he did. Remarkably and against astonishing odds (I can’t amplify), God delivered. The Bible is full of incidents when God suddenly turns up when least expected. The burning bush is a good example. Moses, reduced to a shepherd’s life in the middle of nowhere, is no doubt reflecting on his privileged past he has had to leave behind And in the middle of nowhere, he encounters God. He sees this strange phenomenon. “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.” (Exodus 3:3). However, what he doesn’t realise is that God is simply attracting his attention. Next moment: ““Moses! Moses!” Moses then realises what is happening: astonishingly, God is speaking to him: “Here I am.” The next 32 verses represent one of the most important conversations in the Bible as God seeks to persuade Moses to return to Pharaoh and implement the rescue of the Hebrew slaves. Moses musters every excuse he can think of but eventually runs out of reasons to avoid God’s summons. And the Old Testament begins in earnest. But that is how God operates. He intervenes when we least expect him, particularly during times of stress. We may be so wrapped up in our own selves that God has to alight a very large bush, so to speak. Often he will send someone, not that they themselves will realise it. Again, over the years I have seen people’s visible shock as I have mentioned something in conversation. “How did you know that?” Well, I didn’t, but this is what happens when God gets involved in our lives. For the remarkable truth is that God is not only alert to every aspect of our lives but willingly gets involved to guide and to guard us. What counts is whether we are ready or resistant. When we see a burning bush, are we open to God or fearful of what he may say?

It all boils down to whether we trust him or not, to the God who promises to shepherd those who entrust their lives to him. After all, this is the God who says: Never gonna give you up Never gonna let you down Never gonna run around and desert you.

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