“Wake up, O sleeper!” – Ephesians 5:14
I’ve realised that most of the time, when life seems brutal, I have just closed my eyes to all the amazing blessings in my life. When I feel life is unfair because I am just getting job rejections, or when I feel alone because I can’t be in the same place as my friends, when I feel like I have not been able to experience all the amazing stuff that other people have – then I know that it’s time to kick myself. Cry a bit and let it out because they are real emotions. And then let it go, and focus on all the amazing stuff in my life:
1. The ability to read and write. An ability which I can use in my spare time, to focus on something and create a purpose in my life. (Exodus 35:10; Ecclesiastes 5:18)
2. The privilege to hear, see and smell. A privilege which I can use to take in this beautiful world around me and notice that God’s creation reflects His very being – magnificent, beautiful, and filled to the rim with wonderful mystery! (Psalm 24:1; Psalm 139:14)
3. The desire to be a blessing to those around me. A desire which can lead me and others into better places as God makes my heart a bit more humble and gentle each day. (Romans 8:28; Matthew 5:16)
“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)
As I write from ‘home’ – the house my parents have recently moved into, surrounded by about ten houses, a postbox, and an ocean of fields – I am beginning to see the beauty and the benefits of stopping. Breathing. Thinking.
When I first arrived here, I panicked. I hadn’t been this alone in ages. Apart from not knowing anyone here, I was sure that I couldn’t meet anyone because the place is – well, literally nowhere! And I haven’t met new people. I can’t walk to the shops whenever I want to, or pop into church when I next go to town. Or take a stroll in the park. Or catch a bus somewhere. Seriously, there are no buses! Well, one or two, but I haven’t a clue where they go and the next stop is a long way away. That’s pretty tough considering it means that I have lost all my independence. But then, I got used to it. It’s nothing new that humans can adapt to pretty much any situation so well, however devastating the circumstance may be. And, let’s be honest, I’m not exactly dying.
But it’s not just that I got used to it. I’ve come to realise that I can use this time to live and learn. When next will I get that chance? Life has become so fast-paced and lonely, focused on getting a good job and an amazing reputation. I don’t think most people are happy with that. Especially not when it all falls apart. It brings to mind the parable about the wise and the foolish builder (Matthew 7:24-27). And the parable about the ten virgins who went out into the night with their oil lamps (Matthew 25:1-13). Perhaps building our house on the rocks, and taking extra oil for our lamps means constantly focusing on God and having an attitude of wanting to become more like Him. Turning down certain ‘pleasures’ in this life so as not to miss out on the hope that lies in the future, because we know that when all else falls away, the rock will still be there, and one day, the bridegroom will appear to stay with us forever.
It seems silly; it’s such an obvious lesson, one that I have probably heard many times before, and many people have heard before me, and many people will hear after me. But lessons are often best learnt in real context, in our own bodies and through our own personal pain. Opening my eyes is looking up to the hope that is at the very heart of the gospel.
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
– 2 Corinthians 4:7-9, 16-18