I recently went to a wedding which I felt was truly inclusive. The bride was from Estonia and the groom from England. They had previously been married in Estonia a few weeks previously where the brides family and friends and were able to be present. Now they were having a ceremony for the groom family and friends in England. Because this was 2021 it was not possible to easily move between countries.
Every age was represented by the guests; a few children, one baby in arms right through to older people. It was also inclusive in that the ceremony took place in an old English church being used by modern guests. The outfits worn by these the guests were those befitting for the 21st century.
As the photos were taken after the service , those of us who were not part of the family rested on the tombstones of those who had died hundreds of years ago. The sun under which we basked was the same as it always has been and always will be.
Some of you will know about my wild flower garden which this year is more like a wild grass garden. But the grasses are lovely. I have discovered that most of it is Timothy grass, about a metre high. Though I haven’t been able to find out why is has that name. It has long cylindrical flower heads (more seed heads really) and is good for horses. It gives them shiny coats and is good for digestion. (Not that I’m planning having any horses in my garden.)
Whenever we have good weather I sit out in the garden and it feels like sitting in a field. Even a gentle breeze make the heads sway and the whole effect is most calming. I don’t need to travel to the countryside. I have it here right in my garden. Whenever I need to relax and unwind, a short spell in the garden is all I need.
If we trust God, I wonder why we worry. He asks us to trust Him, but we still become anxious. Maybe we take our problems to God and instead of leaving them there, we keep them with us. It’s as if we enjoy worrying. Surely that’s not so. Nor is it usually that we don’t trust God. We do, we sing the words and think we believe them in our hearts. But we don’t join up the dots.
I suppose we can’t do it in our own strength; we need the help of the Holy Spirit. We want to look to God and not the problems. Maybe practice makes it easier. By reading scripture more, we might instil trust in God in our minds. We could be helped by discussing this problem with other Christians. Surely I can’t be the only person who has a problem with worry. As the hymn writer says’ Have we trials and temptations, take it to the Lord in prayer.
A few years ago I used to drive long distances and often I got lost. With the help of a map ( I didn’t have satnav then) I soon got my bearings and continued on my journey. It didn’t matter a lot , except for some lost time.
Unfortunately, we also get lost in our lives, spiritually, morally and socially. This can mean we mix with the wrong company, go the to the wrong places and read the wrong kind of literature. We can have problems with relationships and journey down cul-de-sacs and blind alleys. This is an import kind of being lost.
The map we need for these problems is the Bible. The answers and route maps are all there if we search for them. I mean search, not just look. It takes effort on our part, but the rewards are worthwhile.
We see in 1 Kings chapter 19 as Elijah stands outside the cave, God gives him instructions. He is to anoint two new kings and also anoint Elisha as his successor. I wonder how he felt about this. He and God had had quite a history together. The list of events was quite impressive – fed by ravens when there was a drought, being used by God to give oil to the widow at Zarephath and restoring her son back to life. Then there was the run-in he had with Ahab on Mount Carmel and finally fleeing for his life.
Then God tells him, his time is nearly over. He has to anoint his successor. Elisha is the prophet who will now be in the limelight. How did he feel about that? Was he resentful, wanting to remind God of all that he had done for Him? Why couldn’t he continue being the man that God using in the confrontations with Baal worship?
I think of my own life. As I get older and not so fit and strong, various Christians tasks I have been involved in are now being handed over to others. I’m not always as happy and gracious as Elijah was. I want to be in the middle of the action. I don’t want to be on the side lines and forgotten. I suppose this is just another lesson that God is teaching me.
I’ve been pleased over the last few days to take part in a national butterfly count in this country. Butterflies are in decline and this survey will record how they are doing. The idea is to sit for fifteen minutes and record every butterfly and moth we see. My sightings were mostly red admirals and cabbage whites but it was a lovely excuse to sit in quiet surroundings and relax.
I have started a wild flower garden though at the moment it is a wild grass garden. This is because the underlying grass was in such a good condition that the wild flowers couldn’t get a hold. We’ve now planted wild flower plug and I live in hopes of a lovely wild flower garden. Maybe it will be next year before it starts to bloom.
When Ii walk out into the garden in the early morning, I disturb dozens of little white moths. Not as beautiful as butterflies but evidence that nature is doing it’s stuff and I’m sure it helps the cycle of nature.
In my gardening I’m coming to realise that plants planted in the wrong place won’t thrive. They’ll probably live but they will not give of their best. If the label says plant in a shady place, that is the correct place for that particular plant or flower. Where i am told plant in full sunlight, that is where it needs to be.
In one of my first gardens I had a crescent shaped bed and decided to plant the flowers following the colours of the rainbow. The patch went from full shade at one end to fully exposed sun at the other. I soon discovered that not all red flowers will grow well in the shade and that not all violet coloured flowers will do their best in full sunlight.
I now follow the instructions on the label and my garden is better for it. I suppose we’re the same. We will not thrive in the wrong environment. To do our best we need to be where God has placed us.
As life gets faster and faster we become more and more distracted. We have to multitask to complete everything we need to do. This probably means we don’t do anything properly. As we do one job, we are thinking of the next one and the one after that. We are achieving less and less and we can become overwrought.
Admiration is given to those who achieve many things in life. Those who are ‘high flyers’ are praised in the media, only for the fact that they have achieved a lot. The quality of their achievement is not always considered.
While there is some merit in this attitude to life, it is not something we need to carry over into our spiritual life. When we pray our minds can dart from one thing to another. Our full attention is not on God and worshipping Him. The Bible says in the psalms, ‘My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast.’
In my garden I have four small solar lights. They don’t throw out much light, but at night time they make that part of the garden look pretty. I love looking at them before I go to bed. Of course, they only work because they’ve been boosted by the sun’s rays during the day. In winter time they are unlikely to be giving out much light.
The secret of the solar lights is the sun. Like our Christian lives. Without our heavenly Son, our feeble efforts would be worth little. We need to be topped up daily by the Son. It is daily that we need help.
There are probably times, like Elijah, when we are looking for God in the wrong place. This prophet was used to seismic things happening in his life. He had massive run ins with Ahab and incurred the deadly wrath of Jezebel. There had been the devastating drought in Israel, brooks drying up and people starving. He had waited as God brought down fire on the altar when God was pitted against Baal.
Although in hiding in a cave Elijah was still linking God with mighty happenings. He felt a great and powerful wind but ‘God was not in the wind. ‘ The wind was followed by and earthquake but ‘God was not in the earthquake.’ For the fire that followed, Elijah was on familiar ground. God and he had dealt with fire before. ‘But ‘God was not in the fire.’
Elijah was looking in the wrong places. Then came a gently whisper. That was where God was and often that is where He is for us.