Midweek Reflection (15/7)

Dear Church Family

Greetings from Carol and I. A particular greeting to those still shielding. The 13 of us that gathered for worship on Sunday remembered you in our prayers. When you are able to join us again, you will appreciate the hard work that a couple of grounds working parties have put into making the church yard look great.

There is no doubt that times remain uncertain.

My youngest son is a great ‘eBay’ bargain hunter and he and his wife have been equipping themselves for the arrival of their second child. Having bid for particularly vital and urgent item, and won the auction, he then discovered that it needed to be collected from Leicester (only 10 miles away) and they will have to wait for it until our sister city unlocks again. The book of James is a wonderfully practical book. I was reminded of a passage that fits so well with our current phase of life.

(James 4:13)  And now I have a word for you who brashly announce, “Today—at the latest, tomorrow—we’re off to such and such a city for the year. We’re going to start a business and make a lot of money.”

(14)  You don’t know the first thing about tomorrow. You’re nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing.

(15)  Instead, make it a habit to say, “If the Master wills it and we’re still alive, we’ll do this or that.”

(16)  As it is, you are full of your grandiose selves. All such vaunting self-importance is evil.

All around us in Tollerton are people who planned to go on holiday, to move, to get married, to have a baby baptised or simply to visit a friend in hospital. All those plans have been thrown in the air. We firmly hope that we are on the road to stability but there are a million things that may trip us up. However uncertain things are for us, we know of other parts of the world in far more dire need. How can we help? Who should we help? Does charity begin at home? Should we give most support to the greatest need?

This brings us to another of my favourite passages in James.

(Jas 1:5)  But if any of you lack wisdom, you should pray to God, who will give it to you; because God gives generously and graciously to all.

One thing a period of crisis does is to help us focus the mind. It helps us to know what is and what is not of most importance. The New Testament is full of practical advice about priorities. It warns us not to store too much in our barns. It warns us not to start a project unless we have the resources to finish it. It warns us to be prepared for the master’s call on our lives lest we miss the moments of opportunity without batteries for our torches. Most of its teachings encourage us to make Kingdom things our highest priority. What that actually means in practice will be different for each one of us.

At various times I have used journaling as a tool to get my thinking straight and to seek to align myself to God’s will for my life. Journaling is a posh word for ‘keep a note book and pour your heart out to God.’ I write out what I want to say to God and what I understand to be the needs and priorities of the moment. Often I will do so alongside a bible passage. James is great for this if your need practical material advice. The Psalms are great if it is your feelings that are in a mess. You will often find that the very act of writing things down brings a measure of clarity. Some people journal all the time. I admire their stamina. For me journaling has always been ‘for a season’. Keep a separate journal for each season. Don’t feel you have to fill the book. I have several dozen journals; some are full, some only have a few pages. I don’t throw them away because sometimes it helps to go back and remind myself of that particular journey. I hope this helps you.

May God guide you and bless you. Alan