The beach is an amazing place to be, the freedom and space, the sun, the wind, the ozone, the sights and the sounds…. every day a gift and every day different. This was one such day last week. I was in a sports car, handbrake turns, nought to sixty in a the blink of an eye, beating up the sand, roaring and soaring, foot down on the accelerator….. the engine surging…. naughty old me… dodging the plods… scaring the birds… breaking the law with glee…. parp parp!
I was standing still. Only my hands were moving, holding my phone, slowly tracking from right to left. My feet were planted fair and square. The sense of movement and speed came from the wind and the world , nothing to do with me. Engine power not required. I didn’t have to do anything except marvel.
Because things are not always as they seem.
Last Spring the weather was wonderful, we could spend time with friends, dine out and go on holiday, visit family, all that. Although there were rumours of some sort of new infection which was puzzling scientists and worrying politicians, it seemed a long way off…. maybe it was all a piece of flummery nonsense, maybe it would respond to existing anti-virals… this is the 21st Century after all and we control all that sort of stuff, don’t we? Clever scientists and (mostly) benevolent governments, a pill for everything, it’s not the blinkin’ Middle Ages for goodness sake….
Back then, I would look out on the sunny street and the world was a smiling friendly place. Today, as I sit here at my desk, it’s pretty miserable weather, with rain and storm, grey sky, passers-by trudging against the wind, jaded after a year of staying-put and missing normal social life. And it’s easy to feel glum (isn’t that a great word? Sounds exactly what it means) but last Spring when all seemed simply swell, the Covid 19 virus was secretly going unchecked, silently multiplying, mutating and adapting, deadly and mysterious, permeating every culture. Today, when all seems grim and hostile, it’s a different story – there are vaccines, and fabulous programmes for delivering them to the whole population, there’s a drop in the rate of infection, the death rate is falling alongside the ICU admissions, there’s talk of decommissioning the emergency Nightingale Hospitals, discussion about easing restrictions, the schools are slowly going back, shaggy heads may soon be shorn, shops may soon open, pubs too, and even the greedy selfish western world is rolling out the vaccines in poorer countries.
Here’s a newsflash: the virus will not win.
Nor will despair, or grief, mourning, confusion, or evil. However bad life seems, there is hope ahead. Sometimes it will seem that all those things have already won, and sometimes it seems that in our own small life stories they have already won, that we are defeated and hopeless, but it’s not true. Our senses so often deceive us. Our intellects, too. Maybe you think that we are scientific beings now and so we get stuff ‘right’ but mankind has always believed that, even in the Dark Ages. We have always accepted the scientific fashions of the day, whether they say that the world is flat and balanced on the backs of turtles, or that it’s hurtling through unimaginable space in an explosion of immeasurable power. When I was a student nurse our tutor told us to remove flowers from the ward at night because they ‘used up the oxygen’. He said that to us because someone had said it to him, when he was a student nurse. We believed him. It was nonsense but we are easily persuaded. Put a white coat on a man, a pair of specs on a confident woman, stand them at a lectern, and we are putty in their hands.
We’re an impressionable lot, we believe what we are told and what we see and what we feel, and sometimes, when life hits us hard, we believe that there is no hope, and no future. But that’s nonsense. Evil will not win, destruction will not win, and why? Because the battle is already won. The Kingdom is already established. There is a greater power than us, the power that keeps the world spinning, the sun in its place, the moon in its orbit, the tides breathing in and out, the winds flowing, the clouds scudding, our hearts beating.
“He existed before anything was made, and now everything finds completion in him.” Colossians 1:17 (TPT)
I love the thought of completion. When Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, ALL was completed. All the story of God and humanity was completed. To you and me the future seems uncertain, but it’s already gloriously fulfilled. God is complete. Whole. Everything he is and does is complete and whole, accomplished. So he is Love personified, complete and whole. Mercy, personified. Purity personified. Power, righteousness, eternity, forgiveness, personified. Victory personified.
Maybe you look around the world right now and don’t see proof of this? Look again. Test it.
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. (Romans 1:18-20)
You know, I’m not a sunny Pollyanna. In 72 years I’ve seen a hell of a lot of life from bereavements and child rape to violence and widowhood. There have been times when I’ve shouted to the sky (and God) “Enough! Why is it always me that gets the crap? What about all the smug bastards who have never lost anyone… never suffered anything… married and cosy and secure and clean cut and arrrrgggghhh! Why not one of them this time?” And then I remember that in those 72 years there was also a husband I loved, a daughter I love, laughter and success and nonsense and sunshine, friends and then…to crown it all…. the greatest gift of all, the joy of knowing God. So I’ve fallen silent and looked around to see that there is more to life than meets the eye.
There is God. God who loves you. You. Whoever you are, wherever you are. Your future with him will bring joy and truth.
Though the mountains be shaken
and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
nor my covenant of peace be removed,’
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.