I’m 70 today. Used to be described as “a good age”. Now I’m told “70 is the new 50”. I can remember a couple of phrases popular with young people some years ago – I’ve become a member of that elite company of “coffin dodgers”. I’ve become one of the “wrinklies”.
But whatever is said about age, 70 years old is a milestone. The NLT version of the Bible puts Psalm 90:10 as this. “Seventy years are given to us! Some even live to eighty. But even the best years are filled with pain and trouble; soon they disappear, and we fly away.”
In isolation, this verse seems negative and even a bit cynical. But it is in the middle of a Psalm which compares the omnipotence, majesty, and security of God with our frailty. But then moves on to verses 13-17. Verse 14 , “Satisfy us each morning with your unfailing love, so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives.” and verses 15-17, “Give us gladness in proportion to our former misery! Replace the evil years with good. Let us, your servants, see you work again; let our children see your glory. And may the Lord our God show us his approval and make our efforts successful. Yes, make our efforts successful!”
So I thank God today for the years He has given me. I thank God for His love and provision. I thank God for my wife, children and grandchildren. For my friends, and especially those who have cared enough about me to share their lives with me. And I look forward to fruitful years to come, full of the knowledge of His “unfailing love” and “joy”.
A sea of green, intensely green, glowing in the morning sunlight. Made up almost exclusively of nettles, a plant described recently by a botanist as one of the “thugs” in our natural habitat, nestling in between trees, thriving on the nitrous oxides wafting across from a nearby road. A no-go area waiting to afflict the unwary with painful stings. Each nettle plant striving to out do its neighbour, stretching to get the best out of its environment, hiding the soil and decay in which its roots are buried, making a plant statement of “it’s all about me”.
But in the middle of the verdant carpet, a clump of bluebells stand, beautiful creations of vivid blue-violet, in stark contrast to their surroundings. The blooms delicate in their composition, bowing slightly as though their stalks are only just able to hold them up. Swaying delicately in the morning breeze. But seemingly making a declaration to the surrounding “bully-boys” that beauty can emerge from the same decay and decomposition that supports them both, in the process making a statement of blessing to their surroundings. A statement that applies to God’s people as well. We walk the same paths, do the same jobs, live in the same environment, breathe the same air, eat the same food, pay the same taxes, as the rest of the society in which we live. But we can be “bluebells” too, demonstrating what God can do, being beacons of grace and love in the sea of humanity that surrounds us, demonstrating that our surroundings need not dictate how our lives work out. Swaying in the winds of adversity that blow, but not destroyed by them. Bowing before our Creator, acknowledging His works.
But there the analogy ends. God created us all, whether we are nettles or bluebells. God, through His grace, has given us the opportunity to show nettles how to become bluebells. To put them in touch with their Creator. What an opportunity!
Pray for peace in Jerusalem.
May all who love this city prosper.
O Jerusalem, may there be peace within your walls
and prosperity in your palaces.
For the sake of my family and friends, I will say,
“May you have peace.”
For the sake of the house of the LORD our God,
I will seek what is best for you, O Jerusalem.
Once again the Middle East is in turmoil, apparently on the brink of war between Israel and Iran. But in fact it has been a bubbling pot of instability for centuries, waxing and waning in seemingly constant strife and violence. But God, in His wisdom, has given us the few verses above. We have a role to play, praying that this city, central to Judaism and God’s people, the Jews, and, spiritually symbolic at least, the Christian faith as well, will enjoy peace. And the God I know and worship answers prayers.