At this time of threatened increased lockdown I am so thankful for my friends. Sometimes we contact by phone, texts or emails. Sometimes we are able to see each physically, maybe sharing a coffee, a meal a video church service or even a talk at the garden gate.
I trust my friends know how much I appreciate their friendship, which i hope enriches their lives as it does mine. Human contact and the hope it gives is what makes the world go round and saves our sanity.
During this period I have also benefitted by being friends with my Best Friend. I still treat God with the utmost reverence and awe but there is also an intimacy as He loves me.
I’ve been commissioned to write a short article on this psalm. In a nutshell, it boils down to ‘why do good people suffer?’
I’ve read round this subject quite a bit. This has been a problem since biblical times. The book of Job deals with it extensively, where his comforters are no comfort at all, and earn a rebuke from God.
Attitude to suffering can alleviate it. One holocaust survivor said he couldn’t change his conditions but he could change his attitude to it. Maybe that is what made him a survivor rather than a victim. .
As humans it seems to be ingrained in us that good behaviour should be rewarded by the benefits of this life. and that bad behaviour should be punished. But in actual fact, we have no rights. God doesn’t owe us anything. Everything is a gift from Him.
There is nothing I can write that has not been written before. There are no platitude I can produce. I’ll return to my books and trust in God to give me inspiration to write an article that honours Him.
I was thinking this morning how different church is during this pandemic. We have not been able to meet in our buildings, we are scattered into our homes. We are relying on modern technology as we worship in our bubbles or alone. Wrongly, we feel sorry for ourselves.
Then I thought about the church the persecuted countries. Not only are they scattered alone or in bubbles, they also have to keep their worship secret. In North Korea, Afghanistan, Somalia or Libya the price of worship can mean death. If secret worship is discovered in Pakistan, Eritrea, Sudan or Iran the punishment can be banishment. Christians are denied food, jobs and benefits.
In the western world our worship is soft and easy. Persecution is slight and I pray that may remain so. How can we help our fellow Christians? We can pray and give. Our God weeps with them.
The American engineer and scientist Robert W. Gore died a week ago today aged 83. He applied for various patents but his best known was for Gore-tex a waterproof/breathable fabric for use in sporting and outdoor gear. I personally have been thankful for this material in my hill-walking days.
Do we have a spiritual Gore-tex to protect us from the ‘darts of the devil? Are we prepared again the attacks of this world?
Yes, the Bible tells us ‘Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground and after you have done everything to stand. Stand firm with the belt of truth buckled round your waist, with the breastplate of righteous in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace ‘ Ephesians 6:13-15
I wasn’t aware that it had been lost. Pandemic or not Jesus still died for our sins. He still came to earth because He loves us. He is with us in this time and is suffering with us.
Politicians might think they are important but they do not have power over our God. Christmas cannot be cancelled. It will be different this year. More people than usual will be lonely; grandparents may not see grandchildren, and grandchildren may not se grandparents. But nothing will change the facts. Christmas is not cancelled.
I pray that more people will think deeply about Christian matters. We are in a mess, the whole world is in a mess. We can only look to God in our helplessness.
Met a fellow Christian writer at Hexham on Wednesday. An absolutely lovely day. We talked and talked but then we hadn’t seen each other for six months, so we needed to catch up. We had planned to walk round Hexham but then I became lazy and was enjoying the talk and meal so much, that i didn’t want to move.
I also travelled on a train for the first time for six months. Many restrictions in place. I wonder when and if we will ever get back to normal. Pandemics may come and pandemics may go but the Cumbrian and Northumbrian countryside is still beautiful, with autumn colours just beginning to appear.
Scrolling through the internet looking at trivia can throw up some interesting facts.
The Circular Cottages, a group of nine cottages in Blaise Hamlet, Henbury, Bristol, are cottages commissioned by the Quaker banker John Scandrett Harford for his retired employees. Their features included brick chimneys, dormer windows and some were thatched. Grouped round a green with a central sundial they were considered to be the first garden suburbs. These Grade 1 listed buildings were designed and built by John Nash.
John Nash was also responsible for the re-design of Buckingham House to become Buckingham Palace. He enlarged the existing building, into an imposing U shaped structure by extending the central block and two wings.
Has God planned our lives on the scale of small thatched cottages or an impressive Buckingham Palace? All we need to do is to be faithful.
Anywhere in the Lake District is extremely crowded. Mind you, the foreign holiday-maker refugees would have found the weather a shock. No lazing on the beaches. After a number of abortive attempts I gave up trying to find somewhere to park. The bus drivers are paid to struggle with the traffic and have their own parking places.
Although I live near the Lake District I hardly ever go there, it’s always full of people and cars. The quietest months to visit are November and January, but I shudder to think of the ice on the roads. I long for foreign holidays to be resumed, then maybe I can visit my local National Park.
Using the bus was the correct type of transport. Like choosing the correct hero to follow in life. We need a hero who can never let us down.
Warm temperatures! Sunny spells! The weather forecaster obviously wasn’t in Grasmere when i was there. The only the sounds were the bleating sheep and the swishing of travelling cars along the seriously wet road. The only sights were, well not much, the mist was very low. The mountains were still there, like God. I don’t need to see Him to know He’s there.
But in this period of lockdown it was lovely to be in a different place, see different views and have my meals cooked for me. And I shared it with the mountains and God.
I was particularly struck by two Biblical readings I came across lately. Hebrews 3:13 ‘Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called today.’ And also ‘Do good to all people, especially those who belong to the family of believers.’ Galatians 6:10
In these difficult days these were encouraging words. We are needing to settle in to the long haul of recovery.