Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind, but now I see.
Thus goes the famous hymn, speaking to so many of us who have had that experience of being lost in our lives.
I recently went through a difficult and dark time, and was in effect lost. Indeed, I wasn't at all sure that I'd survive the experience. Even during this time, though, I recognised that it was necessary for me to go through it in order to learn and to grow, so didn't resent it even though it was scary for a while.
It took three elements to find me and bring me back to where I had been before, so that I could move forward in an improved manner from that familiar place. This was a mirror of what I had experienced in my most recent walkabout, which I think must have happened the way it did in order to show me what must happen in my life, just as much as on that walking journey.
God is known for particular numbers, such as seven for the days of creation, and three as in the Holy Trinity of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. When it comes to recovering the lost (as I surely was last Thursday) he used three categories of people to bring me back to the exact point from which I had struck out earlier: himself, myself, and others I encountered along the way.
The message was clear: he'd be there for me himself, and he'd make sure others would be where I needed them, but it also depended on me. I was, as always on such occasions when in an unfamiliar place or situation, determined to press on and get back to a familiar part of civilisation, and God knew that. He was with me, alongside, throughout, and I talked to him as we went.
He, in turn, listened to me, both my anguish and my good-natured general conversation, and he also made sure the others I'd need were in position at the right times.
- The golf course was hardly busy when I crossed and lost the path, but a group was close by for me to ask when I needed them.
- On the lane on the far (southern) side, he sent the cycling caretaker to let me know where to go and how long a journey it was.
- When I emerged from Ranscombe Farm and was look at five paths all seemingly leading nowhere, God ensured that the two young ladies were in position for me to ask for directions.
It was not lost on me, even though it took me a couple of days to work it all out in my mind.
The bottom line, though, which is what counts most of all, is that God won't leave me, and will make sure I am brought back to where I need to be, and he'll use himself, my own determination, and others – all together if necessary – to do just that.
In the case of my dark time, he did exactly the same to get me back on an even keel. It needed my action, and my earthly father's aid, as well as my Heavenly Father's steer, but that bad time is now behind me. It still needs a fair bit of work on my part, but I know what to do and where I am now heading. I had also made several promises, and am in the process of implementing all that I have promised, some of which I had already done by the time of Thursday's walkabout, and more by today.
Recognising that it can be necessary to plunge into the depths at times, in order to raise oneself and be raised high again, is one of the most difficult lessons in life. It is especially tough going when, as our Major at the Salvation Army said in his talk this evening, we look at the situation before us and ask "where is God in all this?" and we find it harm to see him there. He is there, though, even if and when we fail to see him.
I went through something rather like that this past week or so; but despite shock-waves impacting my faith, I never lost it and that faith remained strong enough to see me through and out of the darkness. Indeed, it was like emerging from that bridge under the M2 motorway and emerging into the light that, in a way, led me back to Bligh Way in a move that I really hadn't expected (I had thought I was somewhere near Sundridge Hill in Cuxton!) and has left a permanent message in my mind.
Well, that was my tale, and I have no doubt that others have their own they could tell if they were to feel thus inclined. The main message though is that God is there with us always, through thick and thin, even if we don't realise it at the time. Some remain blinkered for life; but probably mosy of us either have experienced – or will experience in future, far more 'coincidences' than could ever be reasonably explained away by natural causes, especially in our times of greatest need.
That's what God does, like the Good Father that he is, without being blatant about it (which would be less valuable to us, and could even be harmful once we realise his power and our own weakness too profoundly) but giving us all the clues we need to piece it together for ourselves.
Works for me!