29 01 2008

If Monday signifies the start of a new week, a set of new opportunities as the working week gets under way, Tuesday must surely represent just getting on with life. Weeks are not just made up of beginnings and endings, just as life is not just made up of beginnings and endings – as important as they both are – but a week is made up of one day following another. Sometimes those days seem to be humdrum and ordinary, while other times they introduce pain or joys, and that is just what ongoing life comprises.

A new Christian life starts off, for many, most spectacularly. For some there is never even a beginning, they just live with imitation. They do the things and talk the talk, but the life is not there. It’s a poor imitation at best for life cannot be mimicked. For others the beginning is almost imperceptible and it seems it comes so quietly like a sun rising over the horizon in the morning. For others of us it bursts upon us like a massive firework display. The rising sun or the exploding firework display, they are equally valid, for they both usher in a new life, one that it’s originator referred to as being born again.

But once the sun is here or the display dies down, there is just the getting on with life until it is time for the sun to set. Living in the Son is often completely unpredictable. Yes, there will be days of complete ordinariness and days of startling wonder. On some days that startling wonder comes and goes so quickly. It is a brief thing in the midst of an otherwise ordinary day.

My mother-in-law tells of a time when my wife was very young. They were out in the street and I suspect my mother-in-law’s mind was elsewhere. With her daughter in a push-chair she went to turn to cross the road. As she sought to lift the wheels into the road, she felt a strong restraining hand on her shoulder. She stopped and turned round but there was no one there. As she turned back to face the road a car went by at high speed that would have surely carried them both off this earth if she had not been held back.

How do we explain such times? We don’t. They happen to too many people in so many ways. They defy our intellect; why me, why not that other woman who was killed on this road last week? Yet for a moment in an otherwise ordinary day, something imposes itself on us and we know we have been touched by The Life. One day, the other side of death, we may be granted an explanation but for now…. who knows?

In the early years of my Christian walk, I was utterly confident. I knew so much. Yet, as the years have passed and I have gained so much more knowledge and experience, on a good day my faith seems so much stronger, but on a bad day I touch reality and realise I know so little and feel so vulnerable. That is the reality of life. You may not be here in an hour’s time! You are certain you will be, and most of us will be – but some won’t. The sun will have set.

Solomon, in the jaded wisdom of his later years, wrote of God, “He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” (Eccles 3:11) How frustrating! We catch a glimpse, every now and then, of eternity, but our minds can’t cope with it. The Bible tells us so much and yet so little. That’s perhaps one of the reasons the apostle Paul reminded us that “we live by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor 5:7).

If we want to know reality, sometimes we have to find it in strange places. Solomon again wrote, “The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning.” (Eccles 7:4). It is often only when we have to face death do we realise the fragility of life and only then is ‘life’ really revealed in all its richness. So the days of the week bring sadness and joy, and week follows week and month follows month and the experiences follow on in a steady stream.  If  we take them for granted we miss the wonder of this life.

I remember someone saying, “I feel sorry for the person who deson’t believe in God for they have no one to thank for the good things of life.” I also feel sorry for them because they have no one to turn to on the tough days, to someone who can comfort, strengthen and support us through the greyness of such days. He IS there, to be praised and thanked, and to be sought for comfort and strength, and it seems it is His delight to receive such thanks and to give such help as is asked for. For that I am grateful.




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