We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. Psalm 78:4
A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous. Proverbs 3:22
Earlier this week there was an overnight fall of snow. Not very much – just a centimetre or so. But enough to cover the path to the next village with a pristine layer of white crystals. I joined the path for my early morning walk, to find that some travellers had been there before me. Five footprint trails; three of them heading to the next village, but two of them returning. The shoe size, and stride length probably identified the returning pair as being female, with one of them possibly being taller than the other. And the position of the tracks probably meant they walked together. The other lone set of tracks, probably made by a large pair of Wellies, hadn’t returned. I couldn’t tell much more than that but it was an interesting time of Sherlocking. And a reminder that when we journey through our time here on earth we leave a legacy, an inheritance, a heritage, for our children and grandchildren, for the next generation. A trail of metaphorical footprints in the snows and sands of life.
I always thank my parents and grandparents for the legacies left for me. My upbringing; useful life experiences, and so much more. But what legacy will I leave for my children and their children? What legacy will I leave for the next generation? Will the footprints in my Christian pilgrimage disappear quickly like the shoe marks in the snow, or will they be visible for the next generations to see? I need to ensure that my legacy will not just be a few words on a tombstone or a park bench somewhere.
We need to share our life experiences, our God moments, our answered prayers, Jesus’ message of hope, and much more with those who will carry the Gospel to their generation. I like the quote, “Our children are messengers we send to a time we will not see”. Hmmmm….
Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. Matt 6:26
It seems our community has adopted a pigeon. Not one of your ubiquitous, feral, street-pecking, town-centre pigeons though. This one is much more noble. Almost regal. Every feather in the right place and none missing. Colours all as they should be. A thoroughbred amongst pigeons. And every night it roosts on a bedroom window sill, feathers fluffed up to keep warm, waiting for Bill, a retired miner in his eighties, in the house opposite, to put out some wild bird seed. It must be quite content because it has graced us with its presence for some weeks now. The locals in the community speculate that it must have been a racing pigeon. Or a homing pigeon, its internal GPS system not functioning properly anymore. I don’t know for how long it will be with us. It has no worries though because God is providing for it, thanks to Bill’s tender heart.
We worry about so much. I know people who seem to spend their lives worrying about something. And if they can’t find an immediate cause to be anxious, they worry because they have nothing to worry about. Their lives seem to be full of worst-case-scenario “what if’s”. But Jesus, full of compassion, went on to say in the next verse, still talking about birds, “And aren’t you far more valuable to Him [God] than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?”
If you are a worrier today read Matthew 6:25-34. And read it again tomorrow. And the next day. And feel the love and compassion of Jesus fill your heart, displacing your anxious thoughts.
He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all creation. (Mark 16:15, NIV)
A foggy start to the day. An ethereal mist hangs around the trees, making ghostlike shapes out of the trees and undergrowth. A plume of steam bursts from a chimney, quickly rising before starting to disperse in the air flow from the West, flowing in a cloud to join the general mistiness pervading the atmosphere. A warmer, moisture-bearing flow of air from the West collides with the ground level colder air, the paths and tracks, glens and greens still containing the residue of the post-Christmas snow and ice. A familiar scenario in a Scottish January. Into our sinful and selfish world, riven with conflict and Covid, flows the grace and love of God. A warmer flow of hope and kindness, salvation and forgiveness, colliding with the coldness of our increasingly secular culture, bringing a ray of light into the fog of despair and depression afflicting so many. Folks, there won’t be “a warmer flow of hope” unless we share it. Instead it will stay locked away in the cavities of our minds and souls, unable to flow into the spiritual darkness, unable to disperse the fog that blinds the eyes around us. Lord, I pray for Your presence to burst into the fog in this culture, empowering Your pilgrims to share their stories with their friends, families, loved ones, communities. Bring Your light to all, I pray. Amen.
And David danced before the Lord with all his might, wearing a priestly garment. (2 Samuel 6:14 NLT)
A fall of snow overnight a week last Thursday. Nor very much where we live, but enough to exacerbate the icy path problems. Our elderly and rather lazy pet Westie comes alive when there’s snow about. He sheds many years and becomes a puppy again. Running up and down snow drifts, tobogganing with his nose. Rolling on his back. Biting at the snow, throwing it up in the air. His sheer exuberance is a joy to watch. David had a similar but much more significant, outburst of excitement, of exuberance when the Ark of God was repatriated after its capture and incarceration in the land of the Philistines. He was so taken with the event that he didn’t care what people thought – he abandoned himself in worship before the Lord. Much to his wife’s chagrin!
O Lord. The British reserve, seemingly inbred from birth in our culture, in so many of us, can be a terrible constraint. The nearest I get to David’s outward expression of worship is in private. In my “inner parts”. Perhaps more visibly in my lonely prayer walks as dawn is breaking. But not on the spiritual Richter scale like David’s. For all of us, I’m sure God understands our reticence but perhaps sometimes He wants us to abandon ourselves in worship to Him. After all, one day when we Christians join Him in Heaven, we won’t be able to hold ourselves back.
For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland…..so my chosen people can be refreshed. (Isaiah 43:19,20b NIV)
Earlier this week my morning walk took me up a farm track. It was “Baltic”, about -2 Celsius, the frosty coldness hardening the ground beneath my feet, but the sky was clear with a promise of a fine day ahead. The branches on the saplings beside the track were bare apart from the occasional dead leaf clinging desperately to its twig, as if reluctant to relinquish the memories of the spring and summer in the year past. The start of a new year in Scotland can be very cold and this day was no exception. But then I came across a bud. A sign of new life. Bursting out and swelling with confidence in the hedgerow, proclaiming to all with eyes to see, that something new was coming. And I felt God say to me that in spite of all the doom and gloom proclaimed by the world’s media and governments, He was in control, not the politicians, and Spring will come as it always has done.
God is doing something new in these days of social restrictions, bringing a future and a hope to His creation. And here’s the thing – we may not see what He is doing, but all the same He is working behind the scenes, bringing swelling buds and green shoots into our lives. I don’t know about you, reader, but in my spirit I can feel God’s love and grace reaching out to lives devoid of hope, blighted by sickness, fearful of catching the virus, depressed by another lockdown. Let’s allow our Creator God to refresh us with rivers of His Spirit in the wasteland of this Covid-ridden 21st Century society.
God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. (Psalm 46:1-2 NLT)
Sadly, my prayer walk in Dean Woods this morning had to be abandoned because of ice. A thick layer of the slippery stuff is covering every track and path, rendering them impassable for all except those with crampons. However, all is not lost. The Council has kindly gritted the path to the next village, a 15 minute walk. So that was my new route this morning. It was refreshing making my way through the farms of this part of West Fife, past the field with bleating and very muddy sheep, another with steaming piles of pungent manure, waiting to be ploughed in to give this year’s crops an organic boost. To the North West, the Ochils were covered in snow, brightly shining in the morning light with a pink tinge from the dawn behind me. The closed forest environment was refreshingly replaced by an open arable vista. The old was replaced by something new. Change had to be embraced.
But in my prayerful musings, I felt God say two things to me.
If one door shuts, another will open – if we push it. God may not change our circumstances but He will show us another way to stay close to Him. But we have a choice to make. We either stay focused on the shut door, or we find the open one. It’s up to us.
It doesn’t matter what is happening to us, God is still there for us. Wherever we are or whatever we are doing He is still “our refuge and strength, an ever present help in times of trouble”. Don’t miss the two words, “ever present”.
So in this time of renewed lockdown, something that none of us wanted, can you hear His voice calling? “Halloooo – I’m still here …..”