Helen pointed out yesterday that major life events, like people getting married, getting a new job or being ill pull us up short and make us think about our own situation. They make us consider our own families, careers and health. Or the lack of them.
It's good to take some time to think, just occasionally, about where we are, where we want to be, and how we might get there.
I find my life still finds it's shape in the academic year: Michaelmas, Lent and Summer. My moods and my attitude to life are also very much influenced by the seasons.
I love all of the seasons in England. And I'm even growing to like the rain.
Even though I'm working now, I try and take some time out each 'term' to think about how life is going. I've found it's quite easy for life to go on day to day, without much thought. Which is a shame, because if I only get one crack at being God's child on earth, I had better not squander it.
That's why I and around 50 other adults choose to spend a week of our holiday each year leading a group of 300 young people to think about what God has to say to us through the Bible, and particularly through his son, Jesus. There are so many ways we can serve the Lord, and this is one I have felt led to help with.
Contagious had it's 10th birthday this year, and we celebrated it by announcing that we had effectively run out of room for new people. Next year, there will be a Contagious West in Culford as usual, but a new Contagious East also, in Cardiff. And Contagious nano for 11-13's will begin at Culford too. It's all change. It's all exciting. And just a little bit scary.
To really appreciate what it is that makes following Jesus so worth it, you have to consider what life without him looks like. Contagious this year was titled 'Life without God'. Which is an odd name for a Bible centered youth conference if ever I heard one.
Having spent a full week immersed in what life without God really consists of, I felt very moved. It hurts to think about what people we know, and especially those we love, are choosing to follow instead of Jesus. It is a desperately sad situation, and moved me to tears on more than one occasion. It hurts when you tell others of God's great gift, and they are, at best, dis-interested.
It really hurts.
People say, keep trusting God. And they're right, I must keep trusting my loving Heavenly Father. But even if we trust God with a situation, such as some one being unwell, that doesn't always make the situation less painful. They are still ill, they are still refusing the gift of life. It's okay for you to hurt in that situation. We just have to make sure that the feelings of sadness don't smother what we know of God through Jesus Christ: that He is loving, that He is in control, and that He is powerful. God is bigger than the situations of myself and those I know. His will is best.
Life is a maze, and God is stood above it: He can see the whole layout, the whole picture. And I can't. I am too small. And that's okay. The best part is, I can go to Him and say, 'Daddy, this hurts, this breaks my heart.' He understands. It hurts Him too. The idea that people's relationship with Him was severed hurt so much, he gave His only son so that we could know him. How much more it must hurt Him that they still choose to turn away. How much more it makes me grateful that He chose me to be His child, even though I have no redeeming feature about me. What a joy. I'm so looking forward to meeting my Father in Glory. I have so much to thank Him for, so much to admire in Him. I have am amazing Heavenly Father.
This summer I have come away with a greater longing to meet Him, to know Him, a greater desire to share Him with others. Jesus longs for me tell people about how he gave his life for them, and how they can a have a new life through him, and a new and very real relationship with his Father. Who do I know who desperately needs the hope Jesus offers, the liberation, the freedom that comes from knowing our Creator loves us unconditionally? I know I do.
Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ ?