14th August 2017

Up, Up and Away

“They preached the gospel in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. ‘We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,’ they said.”
Acts 14:21-22 (NIV)

I can remember having to learn a poem by Christina Rossetti at school. It starts with the question, ‘Does the road wind uphill all the way?’ The second line answers, ‘Yes, to the very end.’ It continues with, ‘Will the journey take the whole long day?’ Answer: ‘From morn to night my friend.’ The next three verses were somewhat more encouraging: ‘There is a welcoming inn along the way and other travellers who have gone before.’ But those opening lines didn’t exactly fill a young person’s heart with joy—they were telling me that life was just one long uphill slog. So often all that we remember of a poem or a song is the first line or two, and that’s true for me—all I remembered was the first verse of Rossetti’s poem.

Rosetti seems to be picturing the Christian life as an uphill trudge. In Pilgrim’s Progress John Bunyan has his Pilgrim encounter Hill Difficulty, a climb that is surrounded by two treacherous byways ‘Danger’ and ‘Destruction.’ He has him make his way through the Slough of Despond, the Valley of Humiliation and the Valley of the Shadow of Death too. And it’s true isn’t it, that there certainly are times when our lives just seem to be taken up with an exhausting climb up an endless mountain-side that seems to have no end; or fighting our way through marshy valleys that threaten to pull us down into the mire. The Bible just calls them trials.

How do we cope? Here’s something a friend told me. She is incapacitated by a depilating and un-resolvable illness, and is often awake in the night with pain. That’s when she prays, and as she prays, she gives thanks. She says gratitude is like a balloon, it lifts you up over the mountains and valleys. Those are her words. Giving thanks won’t make tough times go away, but it will help us to see them in perspective, just as we would if we were free and flying in a balloon way up in the air and looking down over the world.

Prayer
Father, empower us when we are weary, with spirits raised to you in thankfulness and gratitude so that we may not lose heart, whatever our circumstances.
Amen

Study by Hilary Buck

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About the Author:
Hilary Buck pastors Grace Communion in Lewes. Like us on www.facebook.com/GCLewes

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion – Lewes
The Priory School
Mountfield Road
LEWES BN7 2XN

Meeting Time:
Saturday 11:00am

Local Congregational Contact:
Hilary Buck
Email: hilaryjbuck@gmail.com

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