A ‘wheelie up a hill’!

Exhilaration!

In the traffic the other day, I saw a teenager riding his bike, doing a wheelie up a hill. I have to say it wasn’t what he was meant to be doing I am sure, and it didn’t look that safe. But what I noticed was the sheer joy and exhilaration on his face. He was so loving it!

In these days of pandemic, sometimes it feels as if everything is grey. It is round after round of changing regulations, new interpretations and constant adaptions. It is necessary but so wearisome.

God wants to bring us seasons of joy. The sheer excitement and enjoyment of that boy on the bike,  reminded me of the enjoyment we seem to have lost as a society, and as a church. We are so worn down by uncertainty, fear and suffering and isolation.

A passage I keep going back to just now is Revelation chapter 2, where John writes to the church in Ephesus. He says they have worked hard and persevered, but he says in verse 4 that the one thing that he holds against them, is that they have forsaken their first love.

Maybe we remember how we felt when we first came to faith, our amazement at being loved by God, at being forgiven because of the cross, being accepted into God’s family. It is the kind of good news that you think will make you smile for a life time.

Yet over time that joy and thankfulness gets eroded by sadness, disappointment, suffering, conflict. At times, we just seem to be going through the motions, surviving each day, rather than living.

I think that God has something better for us. He wants us to come and sit with Him, to have our empty cups filled to overflowing with his healing love and grace, so that we are brought back to life, in all its richness and fullness, so we can have moments of rejoicing and joy. I think it can be a slow process, a time of questioning, of erratic moods and much processing. Yet we pray for God to bless His people once more, with that enthusiastic joy in the gospel, and that He would once more breathe new life into us. If only we could know a fraction of the exuberance of a boy on a bike!

Gracious God, forgive us that we become so burden and worn down by cares, that we can be in danger of becoming grey people, worried about many things. Lord Jesus, remind us of your life giving presence, lift our burdens from us, and put them at the foot of the cross. And then having relinquished all that holds us back, may we know the freedom of your spirit, so we might smile once again, so others might see Your life in us Amen.

Peace beyond understanding.

Deep rest.

There are so many sad and disturbing things going on in the world just now, it can be hard to be still. There is too much to make our minds race, and to disturb our equilibrium. The number of people unwell, especially ill with covid 19 at home and in hospital is difficult to comprehend, and the consequent human misery and loss that is resulting for so many families.

In the midst of all this, it is hard to know how best to pray, I pray for the virus not to spread more, and for healing of those who are sick. But I also want to pray for peace for those who are critically ill.

I am so fortunate, as I am relatively healthy, but in times when I have been unwell, I can remember my body feeling so busy fighting infection, that my mind felt very far from reality, as if everything in the world was so far away, I was actually very peaceful. Ironically it felt like quite a safe place to be, where nothing bothers you, because you are not really thinking. You can hear people and respond in your soul, but not necessarily physically.

I was watching a you tube clip of Joni Eareckson Tada the other day, a woman who recently had covid 19. It is quite a challenging, direct and emotional video, so watch it only if you feel able – a summary is below- https://youtu.be/squAX6lV2Aw        

Joni is quadriplegic, so when she got her diagnosis of covid 19, she thought she would die. She was in hospital, fighting to breathe, when she felt a deep trust in Jesus, and an odd calmness- she knew that whether she lived or died, she was with God, that she was resting in the shadow of the Almighty. And she was at peace. She wants everyone to share this peace of Christ, which is why she shares her experience.

People have different experiences and spiritual understandings, but that resting in the Almighty, that deep peace and trust is surely something that we want people to have. So they are not worried or anxious or fearful, but rather completely at rest.

In Philippians chapter 4, Paul encourages the Christians in Philippi to trust God, to present their requests to Him, and then he says:

‘ and the peace of God, which passes all human understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’ Verse 7

When I feel worried or uncertain, I know I can trust Jesus, and He often shares that sense of peace with me. To be honest, there are still times when I still struggle or am restless. But God wants to bless us with His peace, and that is the gift He longs to share.

May we pray: Lord Jesus Christ, our hearts break over the number of people unwell and dying because of covid 19. We give thanks for all the paramedics and medical staff working with patients, especially in ICU wards, for their medical care and kindness to their patients and their families. Please bless them all, and especially those that are critically ill. May your holy spirit bring to them, that deep peace that passes all understanding, and may they know that whatever happens, that they can find safety in your loving hands, Amen.