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Mail from the Manse – January

Dear Friends,

A very happy New Year to you and may 2020 give us all the clear vision we need to be SEEING OUR SAVIOUR in every area and aspect of our lives, that we might be ever more the faithful and fruitful whole-life disciples He would have us to be. Remember, in order to follow Christ closely, we must closely follow Christ.

My eyes were opened over Christmas to something that perhaps I might not have had the vision to see but for the break in my normal day to day routine. Two distinct birds I caught sight of in the Manse garden that spoke of the different ways in which we can see things. The first was a Robin red breast attracted by some bright berries in the bushes, and the other was a crow pecking at a carcass of a small rodent. Both birds flying over the same lawn, and whilst one sees beauty, the other sees carnage! One sees life and one sees death. One sees fruit and the other sees decay. How do we see things this coming year? 

In that cheery book of Lamentations, written by Jeremiah, with his own heart broken, his situation desperate and his country devastated. He starts by telling us. “I remember my affliction and my wandering. I remember the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them. And my soul is downcast within me.” (3:19-20) Talk about down. He couldn’t see anything good about where he was at, what he was going through and how he felt about it either. He is focussed on all the negatives, the pain and the failures. He has CROW vision. Looking at the ugly, looking at what is decaying and dead. But then it is like his ROBIN eyes are suddenly opened to what he can’t afford not to see, and he tells us in the very next verse, “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope.” He’s going from down to up. From death to life. From despair to hope. What made the difference? “Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore, I will wait for Him.'” What a change here! Jeremiah starts looking at the hope factors instead of the hurt factors. The situation has not changed, but his focus is about to, because now he has in in his vision, the Lord’s great love for him and the Lord’s compassions new every morning to him. Compassions that speak of the specific and customised actions of God’s love in each day and I therefore in every year.

SEEING OUR SAVIOUR in every day allows us to catch the vision for the things we can so easily miss. The opportunity in the interruption more than the annoyance of it. The blessing in what we are being asked to do rather the burden of it. The joy of knowing someone needs us more than the pressure of the need they have. Thankful for what we can do and what we do have rather than complaining about what we can’t and don’t. Such God sightings can be seen every day if you look for them says Jeremiah because that is how God sends them. New every morning. God never misses a day and God never misses year. There are always some to see. He always supplies us with mercies for what the day and the year will need. Great is God’s faithfulness.

It is no wonder that SEEING OUR SAVIOUR was the request at one time of some who came to one of Jesus’s asking, “We would like to SEE Jesus” (John 12:21), after all, Jesus gives sight to the blind and allows them to see what they had previously had no vision for. I pray that that this coming year we all might have the vision of the ROBIN in my garden more than the CROW. With Jesus opening our eyes to look beyond the carnage of our hurts, pains, offences and failures that so often turn us in to a victim of our own self-pity and self- doubt by focussing on a past that can’t be changed. But looks instead at the beauty of the berries God provides each day for us, to give us a future that has yet to be written. One in which by SEEING OUR SAVIOUR in it, we can thank Him for His interventions and His blessings, feeling the wind start to rise under our wings instead of weights pulling them down, we decide what we want to focus on as we fly over today’s ground. Don’t go CROW, go ROBIN. SEEING OUR SAVIOUR as the source and supply knowing for sure whatever our day, whenever our need or whoever our problem, “His compassions never fail. Great is His faithfulness.”

Happy New Year and may God richly bless you.

Your Friend and Pastor.

Shaun