I really like the summer in England and I especially like it here in the country with the colour and new life at every turn. I also love the long days with light evenings and the opportunity to get out of the house and into the garden to enjoy the fresh air and summer sun.
Of course with the sunshine come the showers welcomed by allotment keepers but often interrupting our plans for an outdoor barbeque or party. Even with the benefit of five day forecasts our best laid plans for outdoor recreation are always provisional and contingent on the weather.
Life, like the weather, is also unpredictable and difficult to forecast with any certainty. Plans and schedules are provisional and contingent on many things that are outside our control. I have been reminded of this recently having been stopped in my tracks by physical illness and unable to work or to fulfil commitments made months before when I was firing on all cylinders.
I can make plans and project how things are going to be this afternoon or tomorrow or next week but the actuality may be completely different.
As God says ‘my plans are not like your plans’ and in ill health I have found I am having to let go of my way and instead look for God’s way. All this requires patience and I have discovered that I am not a patient with patience! I want everything to be sorted out, right here and right now, I want to know what is going on and what I need to do about it. But I am having to learn to wait and to trust God, that at the end of the day He is in control…. and that includes the weather!
Sitting at my desk in the study I’m trying not no look at the dog. She is sitting there staring at me, every now and then emitting a soft, low growl just to let me know she is still there. It’s afternoon walkies time, her inner dog clock is telling her so. On my desk is a long list of ‘to-do’s’ and the phone is ringing. What am I going to do first? How can I deal with the urgent without neglecting the important?
I have been interested to see in the gospel stories that even Jesus was not always able to meet all the needs of all the people around him. As the crowds grow we see him increasingly withdrawing into the wilderness to spend time alone with God, to pray, to seek God’s guidance and God’s priorities.
Taking the dog for a walk is fast becoming my priority…. I shall walk and pray.
A friend of mine was described to me as someone who “likes to have all their ducks in order”. This meant (as far as I could gather) that they liked to have everything sorted or ‘just so’. It struck me, however, that such an approach to life can be difficult to acheive in an uncertain and unpredictable world. Life has a habit of disrupting even our best laid plans, and we find that our sense of being in control or on top of a situation was merely illusionary.
Life is so unpredictable and uncertain because we don’t know what’s going to happen today, let alone tomorrow, we don’t want to live in fear or with a continual sense of impending doom but how do we navigate through life’s uncertainties? How can we ‘Keep Calm and Carry On?’
Jesus gave us his approach to the worries, problems and uncertainties of life in Matthew 6:34 where he said “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of it’s own.” And Peter in 1 Peter 5:7 reminds us to “Cast all your anxiety on him (God) because he cares for you”.
So the challenge for us is to live in the present rather than worrying about future ‘what if’s’ and, of course, to keep calm and PRAY!
"Cast all your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you;
he will never let the righteous be shaken".
I was reminded today of the importance of taking opportunities.
It was one of those really bad mornings with low cloud and heavy rain. The dog was champing at the bit and it seemed that it was destined to be a pretty grim day. However, when all seemed lost, the cloud cleared and the sun came out. The opportunity to take the dog out was here! But… I became distracted by unimportant matters. When I finally ventured forth with the hound there were black clouds on the horizon. Sure enough, half way around the park the heavens opened.
What was the lesson here?
Take the opportunity while you have it, don’t delay and miss the window of opportunity – whatever it may be!
At Rochester cathedral in the early hours of Easter Sunday a service takes place. It starts outside in the dark with the lighting of a fire and as day breaks everyone moves into the cathedral to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
In his letter ( 1 Peter 1:3 ) the apostle Peter says that he and his fellow Christians had been given a ‘living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.’ Jesus’s resurrection had changed their lives from an experience of deep despair and loss to one of living, joyful hope. Since then generation upon generation have come to experience the unique spiritual awakening that comes through faith in the risen Christ.
Just as the SUN awakens the dawn so the SON awakens the dawn in us, bringing us the light and life of the risen Christ.
“Here comes the sun, it’s been a long, cold, lonely winter” -so sang George Harrison, and I think that we can all relate to that as the sun has started to shine again. What a difference the sun makes! That huge ball of fire upon which we depend for our life here on earth. How fragile this life and this world is, all of us dependent on a fireball in the sky – makes me think that there must be a God keeping it all going, sustaining the universe.
I realise that I am seeing through the lens of faith and that not everyone who reads this note is wearing those sunglasses. Personally, I have not always worn the ‘lens’ of faith but all I know is that when I did dare to look through them a new reality was brought into focus. I remember seeing God’s creation for the first time through these new glasses of faith. It was springtime and the new green of the natural world was everywhere to be seen, as never before I began to see this world in full colour, I saw God’s creation and myself as God’s creature.
Faith provides a very different perspective and a different way of seeing that I, and many other Christian believers, find to be helpful and important in understanding life, the universe… and everything!
In some situations thinking too much can be a problem, however thinking, reflection and indeed meditation all have an important role in seeking to live the God directed life. It’s not always easy to know what to do, or how or when to do it and this is where prayer and meditation come into play.
The season of LENT involves not only a measure of abstinence but also time for reflection and prayer. Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11) is the model. Time to think and pray ahead of a time of intense activity and action, time to get ready before a time of testing, time to prepare for the future whatever it may hold.
However you decide to ‘keep the fast’, LENT offers us an opportunity and a challenge to take some time to be quiet, read the scriptures and to think and pray.
When one door closes
‘When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”~ Helen Keller
Why do things not always work out as we planned? Why do things seem to go wrong?
These are tough questions and there are no easy or ‘pat’ answers. There is no formula for an easy and trouble free life. Where is God in all this? Its not a bad question, but it’s not always easy to answer. Life is often confusing and we are often left wondering, what was that all about? Where is God in all of this?
Like everyone else in a similar position I turn to Romans 8:28 ‘in all things God works for the good of those who love him.’
Do you believe it? Some how I do, even when things don’t pan out the way I expect.
Thank God for the Dog!
I am so thankful to God that I have had the joy and privilege of owning a dog. Perhaps owning is the wrong word as the creature has it’s own mind and will. This was of course demonstrated so well a few years ago at the local fete when I found myself chasing my hound after she had run off with a sausage.
Dogs teach us things and I am always learning from my spaniel. I am amazed that they want to be with you, generally right next to you. They love to please and this for a spaniel involves always returning with a stick as a gift. The only problem is that with three walks a day, that’s three sticks a day, that’s 1095 sticks a year, hence the state of our front lawn.
It’s also interesting observing a dog getting older and maturing. There’s a sort of wisdom that comes with age and I’m hoping it will rub off on me!
Maybe God has something to say to us through our animals? His unconditional love for us, his wanting to be with us, his wanting to bless us with abundant gifts….if we could only recognize them!