I have been scanning photos while lying in bed. Mary is sorting through old photo albums and I am digitising them onto my laptop via a portable scanner. It’s a fascinating process, I am time travelling from 1870, no not my childhood, that’s my early adulthood. Now come on really! It’s distant family relations that we have photos of through to our childhood, courtship, marriage and early married life and our children. It is quite a trip through memory lane.
As I lie here in bed looking out at the garden I can see flowers that are already losing their blossom, a tree just gaining leaves and birds that live just a few years. Scanning the photos of long dead relatives has made me contemplative, not maudlin, but thoughtful. Life is so brief, we are born, go to school, get a job, hopefully, maybe get married, sometimes are blessed with children and grandchildren, then we grow old and die. We do so much while alive. Work, build, create, love, laugh, cry, debate, write, sing, paint, teach, encourage, heal, help, and much more. Then there are the negative things people do, fight, steal, destroy and kill among others. It made me think of the lines from Macbeth:
“Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
…. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Such an image of futility.
I would think Shakespeare had Solomon’s words from the Bible in mind:
In the book of Ecclesiastes 2:11 it says:
“Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had spent in doing it, and again, all was vanity and a chasing after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.”
This from the wealthy King who had everything his heart desired.
Wow! That all sounds very depressing and before you all rush off in despair I have a ray of hope. No I am not going to start singing “Circle of life,” from The Lion King, because I am not a pantheist. I don’t worship a god of Earth, Wind and Fire. There I go again, you’ll definitely be expecting a song now.
I believe in a very personal God, a real and living God. A God who we can know and experience. Not a god of the forest and fields, but a God who made the forest and fields and everything in the universe. Not a god in my image, but a God in whose image I was made. There is a very big difference. How does that give hope? Because life in all its brevity and seeming meaninglessness, actually has meaning. King Solomon talked about the pointless and meaninglessness of things, of possessions, things. If you know one thing about Kong Solomon, I bet you know he was wealthy. He had riches coming out of his ears, not literally. He had many wives and concubines. Hey, this was the norm at the time, so don’t get on your moralistic high horse about it. The point is, he had sex a plenty. So anyone who thinks sex on its own is the answer to happiness, it’s not. Anyone who thinks money and power alone are the answer, they are not. Obviously you need enough money to meet basic needs, beyond that money does not bring happiness. King Solomon knew that only one thing would bring him ultimate fulfilment and that was knowing God.
We are really lucky today, because unlike King Solomon we live in a time after Jesus came to Earth. Which means we have a really easy way to get to know God. It’s so easy that it seems too easy. Often people add bits on to make it harder. There are many Christians who think that they need to do extra bits to get to know God. They just can’t believe that God would make it so simple.
Here you go are you ready for the what you have to do? Believe in Jesus Christ. Belief and trust in Jesus that’s it, it really is that simple. No rules and regulations, no club to join, no fees to pay, nothing else. I can here you all shouting out, ‘what about the Church?’ You have to join that. No, you don’t, the Church means the gathering of the people of a God and you become part of the Church when you become a Christian. Once you become a Christian you will want to be with other Christians, just because they are family. But the form that takes will vary greatly. You will also notice that the things you used to do before you knew Jesus, not all of them will feel right. Changes you make won’t be because you have to change to be a Christian, but because you want to change now that you are. It’s reverse to your expectations. In fact here is a shocking statement, you could carry on doing everything you did before and also not gather together with other Christians, it won’t stop you being a Christian. But you will find you lack joy and fulfilment. You will feel the lack. You see being a Christian isn’t about what you do, but who you are. Once you get to know Jesus and say yes I believe in you and trust you, you become an adopted child of God. Who you are has changed even if you never act any differently. The reality is that most people can’t help but act differently when they realise the change of who they are. For many they do change, but it can be slow. One thing to be very aware of is that being a Christian doesn’t make us perfect. We still do things wrong. It’s just that God forgives us. I have heard people say they couldn’t go to Church because they aren’t good enough. Well join the club, neither am I. Another common thing said is that all Christians are hypocrites because they are not perfect. But as I said, becoming a Christian changes who you are not what you do. What you do changes slowly over time.
Imagine for a moment that you woke up tomorrow and found out that you could choose to be an adopted child of the Queen, or if you are not into royalty then an adopted child of some billionaire or a top film star. How would that affect how you saw yourself? I assume you couldn’t help but see things differently. You would realise you had new rights, new privileges, new access, a new standing in the world etc. Well that is all true but a million times more when you become a child of God.
Is life meaningless, do we work and toil at things without real purpose? It can seem that way. But as a child of God we can have a hope and a future that will not perish or fade. A hope and a future that is secure. Our lives will not be meaningless or signify nothing. Instead they will have purpose, meaning and significance. There is hope and a future.
As always if I have raised questions you want answered I suggest Alpha. It’s a free, no strings attached Christian course. Check out alpha.org
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