Breathtaking beauty in unsettling times

A mandarin duck

There are so many choices to make every day. So often I want to make the safe choice, to do less, to hide. It seems so tempting. There are times when this is what we need to do, in order to heal.

But I also think there are times when God calls us to go out, to make that change, to speak when it is unpopular, to take that next step.

I am reminded of Jesus saying to Peter out on the boat ‘come!’ So Peter got out of the boat, and walked on water, and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was frightened, and he began to sink, and he cried out ‘Lord, save me’. Immediately Jesus extended his hand to him and caught him.’ Matthew 14: 29-31a

It was night, and when Peter saw Jesus walk on water, he wanted to join him. When he was focused on Jesus he could do it, but when he doubted and got frightened he sank. Even then, Jesus caught him- immediately. What compassion and grace.

I had heard there were mandarin ducks in the area, and I thought I will never see any, it is not worth trying. Another part of me thought I will never know if I don’t try. And so I went out, and found this beautiful bird on the river! When I found the motivation to try, I found the very thing I sought.

Now I am not saying that every time we try, we will find what we are looking for. But I am saying that if we don’t try, we won’t find it. So sometimes like Peter, we need to have the courage to try, and we might just find the very thing we seek.

Gracious and patient God, You are so good to us, and You understand us when we feel negative and unmotivated, times when we give up trying. Lord Jesus, thankyou that You speak to us and remind is to come, and that good things are still possible, even moments of breathing beauty and kindness. In unsettling days, may Your holy spirit give us courage to get out of our boat, and to seek new adventures, and to continue to trust in Your good purposes. In Jesus’s name, Amen.

Finding new paths.

Sloy dam!

It is amazing how often at the beginning of a new year, we feel compelled to give up bad habits and to embrace new more healthy ones. This week, I was able to try a bit of hill walking, on a beautiful winter day. It was glorious!

However it didn’t start like this. It started with the thought, should I really be doing this. Finding the car park to start off with was hard enough, never mind the right path. The signs were far from clear, and it was only watching the wee group of people ahead, that gave me a clue which was the right gate to go through to start off. It was just a bit disorientating.

After I came back however, I had chatted to other people, consulted a map, and got my bearings much better. Now it has become familiar territory, and much easier to contemplate doing again.

It reminded me that doing things for the first time, is often pretty scary. However well prepared we are, we have to interpret new information, process our enviroment and find our direction. It takes energy and courage.

For people who are traumatised or grieving, there are many things that we need to learn to do, to be self aware and to have confidence to explore- whether it is making a choice, going out with friends or moving house. There are decisions that need to be made, and often we need to have courage to take that first step.

In psalm 119 it says: ‘ Your Word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path’. Knowing God’s Word helps us to honour Him in our decision making, and gives us a moral compass. His Holy spirit guides us as to what might harm us or bless us, and this helps us make the best decisions, even when they are scary or new. We give thanks that we are never alone, and that God guides us and helps us venture out on new paths.

Eternal Father, we often are anxious about going in new directions, and a bit worried how things might turn out. In all our ways may we acknowledge You, and may you make our paths straight. Lord Jesus when we are hurting, we often lack confidence or motivation to try something different. It can seem so daunting. Please calm our fears, and may your holy spirit guide our feet and give us courage to explore, and to find new paths that lead to beautiful vistas, wonder and blessing, Amen.