We have been enjoying some good weather in the past few weeks – not too hot, or too cold, or too windy (that’s what I call good weather). We had a holiday in South Devon for a few days and it was truly lovely. Just what we needed. It was a holiday that we turned up to without planning much beforehand – simply booked a cottage, put the postcode into satnav and arrived – eventually! Each day we hit different beaches and the weather was glorious – sunny, still and comfortable. Not too many people about, mostly those with very young children and those ‘cough’ of a certain age!
I think if we had planned it, had great expectations it might not have happened. It’s lovely when things go well and its been almost effortless. Most of life isn’t like that though, is it? My Dad used to say ‘he who expects little, shall not be disappointed’; this was usually a bit of a joke when he was serving the food for dinner when we were all ‘starving’ and hoping for a big portion!
Of course, now that we have returned home the weather is cold and it feels like time to get the jumpers out if you had put them away. Like the weather, life is very unpredictable and just when we feel things are settled and peaceful, something seems to come along and disrupt everything. That seems to have been my story quite often and maybe its been yours too. We live in unusual times when the way things have been for ages, seems to be changing rather radically in many spheres of life and the way that things work or used to work, like getting to see a doctor, or open a bank account have changed and we don’t like it much do we?
I find solace often in getting outside, whether in the garden, the park or off on a walk somewhere, even in the town or the city across the water; watching the countryside when in the car on a journey and so on. The natural world seems to have sprung up beautifully – roses have been beautiful this year and the garden – thanks to Mark is taking on great shape from the relative wilderness that it had become – we love the garden but are not great gardeners! I’m so pleased that some people are!
Gardens like many things in life need attention. They need to be tended, cultivated, parts left a bit wild, spaces made, clusters of plants dug in and some decent material put into the soil to aid growth. I guess it’s the same with the countryside – it looks wild often but isn’t really unless deliberately left that way. Much of what is ‘natural’ is managed to a greater or lesser extent.
I find that there is something that we can learn here that can inform our faith and life. We have to tend to our faith, as we do to our gardens and the natural world, as much as we do in other areas of our lives – tending to friends, our own needs, our families, our walk with Jesus. To enhance each of these areas of our lives they need time and they need us to be aware of any ‘weeds’ that might be growing up and entangling us; making our lives more difficult. Tending to our health, tending to our spiritual life by taking time away with Jesus – reading our Bible and spending time in prayer in ways that work for you. Some need silence and space, others need to be doing tasks that allow their mind to wander and ‘converse’ with the Lord.
Jesus is infinitely patient with us and is always willing to forgive. If we have been ‘away’ from him for a long time, or a little time; he is there to welcome us back into that on-going conversation of love. Perhaps what my Dad used to say is true – if we expect little from our walk with Jesus, we will not be disappointed! Conversely if we expect much, we will not be disappointed either. I think this is the one area of life that both of these things are true.
It’s not easy to be expectant and hopeful in a positive way at this time for things we cannot see but as the Apostle Paul says in Romans 8.24-25 ‘hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?’ But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.’
Have a great summer whether in your garden, back yard, outside in the local parks or further afield. When you get out, spend a little time just focusing on the good things in life, those blessings that you have, who you might bless and all with a thankful heart to God.
Rev Gerri Tetzlaff