This isn’t instagram but sometimes I want to show you this beautiful world and my words can’t paint the picture. I can’t link arms with you to walk along the beach, or stroll beside the river, or up on the distant hills, or through the bluebell woods, but I do have my trusty little camera phone thingy…. so here I go… can I talk as we wander?
For all the war and suffering and starvation, for all the cruelty and the loss, this world, given to us in love, is beautiful.
This is where I was this morning. It’s where I am every morning but of course each day and sky is different, from fog and rain, to raging storm, or gusting wind, sometimes rolling sea mist, and sometimes the sand seems to take on an energy of its own, rising up, skimming past, blinding and stinging.
This was yesterday, bitingly cold, silver, entirely different.
Which one gets my vote? The blue one, of course! Yes, I love the cold days and even the wet days, but I do love them a bit less.
This morning was amazing. Why? Because, because, because… it just was. Come, walk with me.
A prayer request pinged in late last night, from friends halfway across the world, and as I lay in bed I was thinking of these friends, who were driving quite a few miles from home to be with a very ill parent. The thought came to me that even as I snuggled under my duvet, praying from a great distance, they were at the sharp end – the painful end. In a way they were driving towards bad weather, towards an emotional storm, and wow! that realisation grabbed me. It hurt. I felt helpless, knowing that no one could get in there with them to ease their pain. I remembered a book I used to read to my grandchildren, ‘We’re going on a bear hunt’ by Michael Rosen
Can’t go over it,
Can’t go under it,
Can’t go around it,
Got to go through it!
Sometimes we just have to go through it. We have to go through what we cannot mend. It really hurt to think of these kind people facing such a hard time. That’s what prayer does sometimes – it hurts. Prayer isn’t words or wisdom or knowledge, it’s caring, and caring comes at a cost. Prayer isn’t easy, it isn’t liturgy, or shopping lists, it’s painful – it’s important – it matters! It matters and it costs. Then – somehow apart from me – as I prayed or maybe just cared, there came a really solid understanding that they were driving towards this hard time already sheltered, already safe, fully equipped. It was more than a comforting thought, it was the realisation that love will hold them secure, whatever the weather around them. However the earth trembles below their feet, they will be held steady. They know God deep in their bones, and they are steadfast and obedient, and he will not let them go. I sleepily tried to work out what time it was for them, mid afternoon, I think, and then I slept.
As I walked towards the rocks this morning, I realised that the tables were turned and it was now the middle of the night for them. That bloomin’ time difference! Keeps catching me out. I looked at the Sun in our bluest of blue skies and thought about its journey Westwards, about the Moon and the rotation of the Earth, about the greatness of our God. We are so tiny, specks of dust on a speck of dust. How is it that we are loved and how is that we know that we are loved and can even feel that love? How is it that we can think of the people we love, in all the hardship they’re going through, and say to God “I trust you. Here they are. ” Only by the grace of God. Our miracle. There are so many prayer needs, the thousands in Kyiv, the thousands in Mariupol, the millions seeking refuge from war, the friend in the village whose husband died suddenly and with absolutely no warning last week, the friend who is poorly, the friend who is bereaved… is it overwhelming? Sometimes. Yes, sometimes it is. But sometimes we know exactly who we must pray for at that moment. Sometimes we have a certainty. A sort of discipline, from outside of ourselves.
I prayed that at that moment, thousands of miles away, my friends were tucked up and dreaming in a velvet night, that the sick parent was painfree and unafraid, that the hospital was peaceful, that while I paddled in the glistening waves, their night was restful, to strengthen them for the days ahead.
And then it hit me – as the world revolves and we pray for each other, we truly are in eternity. Already. Time and distance? Bah, humbug! Nothing to God. His love binds us all, in completeness, nothing left unfinished. Yesterday I was talking to Sandra (you don’t know Sandra but you would like her) and we were exploring the idea of eternity and the eternal life that Jesus gives, but of course eternity is wider and greater than even that. Even than that! Even than that! The birth and death of a sinless God was a moment in history that, as the hymn says ‘split history in two’, but Jesus was in the beginning, before the beginning, beyond time. He knows no distance or time. Love knows no separation, no pause. Love binds all things together. That’s what ‘In Him all things hold together’ means. All things. Not most things. In Jesus, in God, we are all held together, past and present, fulfilled and yet to be fulfilled, near and far.
This is a chunky bit from The Message version of Colossians 1, the passage that talks about ‘all things holding together’:
For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment. And when it comes to the church, he organises and holds it together, like a head does a body.
He was supreme in the beginning and—leading the resurrection parade—he is supreme in the end. From beginning to end he’s there, towering far above everything, everyone. So spacious is he, so expansive, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross.
How wonderful. How absolutely mind blowingly wonderful. The love of Jesus transcends continents and oceans and time, from beginning to end, so that prayer knows no distance, is not a slave to the ticking of the clock, nor even to the rising and the setting of the Sun! Prayer. Mighty prayer.
After a while, my mind can go no further. It’s as if I have to shelve those thoughts for a ten minute break, to return to them later, maybe here at the keyboard. So I splashed and plodded and sat on a rock for a while, thinking of friends here and gone, alive and dead, near and far. And then I came home for coffee and waffles.
Time and distance. They are nothing in God’s Kingdom.