The cold wintry weather this week brought life, as most people know it, to a sudden standstill in most parts of the UK. News bulletins continually reported transport systems grinding to a halt, school closures, hospital appointments cancelled, cars and lorries stuck fast, bread and milk in short supply, plus ‘101’ other stories of folks in difficulties. Most of us have known of friends, or experienced ourselves, some trying times this week. It has been well nicknamed ‘the beast from the east’.
It’s a reminder of how quickly life can change. All the things that seem so settled, so important quickly come to a stop and we start asking what am I to do now? One friend on Facebook said, ‘the snow, and being at home was great for a day, but now I need to get out, I want to get on with life’. It reminded me of the day I walked into my office many years ago with plans for the day, when I received a phone call from my CEO, to say he was sorry, but I was being made redundant! So after 20 years of service to this company, I found myself at home before 10am scarcely believing what had happened, and asking, what now? Others I guess have experienced similar or worse trauma when told by their doctor of some serious medical diagnosis or on hearing or experiencing some other of life’s difficult situations.
It’s then you start reflecting on the big questions of life, and asking what are the really important things I should be concentrating on? I was touched this week reading the story of South African doctor Alastair McAlpine who works with terminally ill children http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-42909326 He summed up the children’s responses to the questions of life and death with this message gleaned from the children – Be kind. Eat ice cream. Read more books. Spend time with your family. Crack jokes. Go to the beach. Hug your dog. Tell that special person you love them.
Yes, sometimes our dreams come crashing to a halt. My Bible reading this week was from the book of Acts. I’ve been reading there about this man Paul, who had a remarkable conversion experience to Christianity, and how God sent him on some dangerous and exhilarating journeys around the then known world. He was told he would also take the news about Jesus to Rome, when all of a sudden all his plans seemed to come to a grinding halt. and he finds himself imprisoned for two years by the Roman Governor Felix at Caesarea! For me the amazing part of the story was that Paul never lost his faith in God or doubted God’s promises to him, and we should not either. Even in prison Paul takes the opportunity to explain the good news about Jesus to the Roman Governor, telling him that Jesus was the Son of God and had come to bring forgiveness and eternal life to all who would believe in Him. The Bible says that Felix on hearing the good news about Jesus said to Paul – Go your way, when I have a more convenient time I will call for you!* It would seem from history that ‘the more convenient time’ never came about.
As an older man I can look back on life and recall a good number of occasions when life came to an unexpected stop, or due to other happenings, completely and suddenly changed direction. I’m so glad that like Paul I too had a conversion experience (not quite so dramatic!) and came to know and trust in Jesus. He has guided and directed throughout life just at the Bible promised* and my faith in Him is steadfast. I’m certain he will take me to my final destination at the end of the day.
In the busyness and uncertainty of life, could I ask, when would be a convenient time for you to consider giving your life to Jesus? I remember reading a wee leaflet some time ago asking this same question. It depicted the various stages of life under these captions ‘Too Young’, ‘Too busy’, ‘Too Old’ and then Too late!’
Time perhaps to stop, and consider this life and death question, for none of us are promised tomorrow, and the Bible says ‘now is the time of God’s favour, now is the day of salvation’.*
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*Bible references – Proverbs 3.5-5, Acts 24.25, 2 Corinthians 6.2.