Living in the struggles – Look, See, Pray

Camellias have a tough time in British winters. They often set bud early, and can flower from January onward. Luscious blooms glow gorgeously in the low-angled sunlight, and the bushes bring vibrant colour to dark days.

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Then the snow comes, and the frost bites.  Today’s pictures were taken in the garden just a few hours apart. A beautiful golden evening led into a freezing cold night and a smattering of fine snow. Harsh conditions for a delicate-looking flower. Despite the cold, the plants survive. Blooms may turn brown and drop (always a sad sight) but the bush fights on. Next year it will flower again.

A life lesson from camellias. Keep on with the struggles- as a wise person once said “This too shall pass.”  We can’t “give” a bush human qualities, but if vegetation can keep going, surely so too can we- or at least, we can try.

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We can choose to exercise trust.

God shows himself to be good, holy, and loving. The supreme revelation of His character is seen in the character and actions of Jesus.

Now then: Jesus may have lived perfectly but He still struggled with the “winter” of hostility. Warm words and appreciation turned to damning lies and yells of hatred.  The truly Beautiful was scarred, betrayed, judged unfairly, and executed brutally.

On the third day… Resurrection!

Even more wonderful, Jesus overcame the power of Death for all. Because He died and rose, we have a hope that is everlasting.

When all seems lost, when the fight is on, the frost is biting… remember the faithfulness of God.

Hold onto what you know. This too shall pass. We may have questions, doubts, tears. But we still have hope- the confident expectation that Jesus will do as He has promised.

Apparently next Monday, the 21st January, is called “Blue Monday” because the scientists have calculated that is when we are most miserable after Christmas:  we are short of cash, overloaded with calories, and regretting the resolution to join the gym.

Try this instead- go and look for a camellia, or snowdrops, or an early daffodil. Gaze at it, appreciate it, value it- and take it as a marker of hope. Remind yourself to actively choose to trust God’s love and faithfulness, His compassion and mercy.

May the God of hope grant peace, joy, and eternal blessing to you today.

 

Ancient Verities

Mist and mountains go together.  The sheer weight of a mountain is incalculable (to the ordinary person anyway). Solid strength and dramatic shape makes a mountain awe-inspiring, and to our eyes, often beautiful.

Through most of human history, mountains have been places of danger where wild weather and wild animals threaten the traveller. It is only in relatively recent times that increased leisure and travel have made mountains a tourist attraction.

In the photograph, trees cling stubbornly to near-vertical edges. Life finds a way.

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Mountains stand tall – yet face the enemy of Time itself. Wind, water, sun’s heat and cruel ice whittle away. Rivers and tides erode the rock, sculpting the drama of cliff and waterfall.

These ancient sentinels have stood for thousands of years, largely unchanged through the whole span of human civilisations. Observable change is generally slow and they stand tall as if to declare that only Time can stand against their harsh hardness.

Mountain have a place in the great story of the Bible. God meets with Abraham, and with Moses, and great unshakeable covenant promises are made.

In the life of Jesus, the Transfiguration happens on a mountain, and when Christ ascends he is taken from view into the clouds and thence returns to the heavenly Throne room until the end of Time as we know it.

As you think on this, meditate on these words from Isaiah. Even if the ancient verities of geology are gradually eroded, God’s covenant faithfulness is unshakeable.

Isaiah 54:10 (NLT2)
“For the mountains may move and the hills disappear, but even then my faithful love for you will remain. My covenant of blessing will never be broken,” says the LORD, who has mercy on you.

Lord, have mercy; keep Your Promise and give us the solid Rock to stand on as we trust in Your compassion and faithful love. Amen!