Hi there everyone, hope you’re keeping alright?
How the mighty are fallen 🙂
Last week I shared that the rest of the family had been struck down by COVID, but I was enjoying the reputation of being something of a Superman… well, unfortunately that little fantasy didn’t last long as I too tested positive at the start of the week.
As I shared in my last blog, (https://www.bethelcardiff.org.uk/family-update-uncharted-territory/) thankfully contingency plans are already in place, and I’m really grateful to Regional Minister, Rev. Emma Mohr, who will be ministering God’s word at Bethel on Sunday! Hugely grateful to the amazing team from Bethel too who have all leapt into action to cover other responsibilities whilst I am having to self isolate.
I won’t bore you now with my moaning about it all – but suffice to say that for myself and Aimee, when it did land – it landed hard. It has been a really nasty bout for both of us. We’re really grateful to everyone for their messages, offers of help and prayers – we are so so grateful to all of you.
Space… the Final Frontier…?
In other news this week… you may have read that Star Trek royalty, William Shatner (Mr. Captain Kirk himself), became the oldest person ever to be blasted off into space. The 90 year old, having become famous acting as an intrepid space explorer, has now joined the elite short list of people to ever actually leave the earth’s atmosphere. This was on the Blue Origin flight which launched yesterday, with a crew of just four people, and lasted for just ten minutes and seventeen seconds.
Back on terra firm, William Shatner described the trip as: “the most profound experience…” He went onto say: “I’m so filled with emotion about what just happened. I hope I never recover from this. I hope I can maintain what I feel now – I don’t want to lose it!”
All this from a man famous for “boldly going where no-one had gone before…!”
If you want to have the same experience, the good news is that you will soon be able to book your very own ticket for just a little over two million pounds! (Please not that former Star Trek captains are not necessarily included with every flight).
To some people it’s a bit of a cliché, while for others it’s iconic, but the phrase: “Where no-one has gone before…” has become a much used (and much parodied!) phrase!
Whether it’s a profoundly moving experience, or a profoundly difficult one – we all have certainly gone to places where we have never been before… but Scripture contains the hope that wherever we go… – the Lord is already there, because He gone before us.
I love the words of the Psalmist in Psalm 139:
Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Where can I flee from Your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, You are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, You are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast.
The phrase “the wings of the dawn” was how the ancients described the rays of light that burst across the horizon at sunrise. The Psalmist is imagining somehow travelling within those rays of light and being propelled right across the sky to the “the far side of the sea!”…
The heavens or the depths (North and South) – or sunrise or the far distant shores (East or West)… no matter where I go, “Your hand will guide me… Your right hand will hold me fast.”
There are no new places to Him, He’s already there. Waiting to welcome us, guide us and hold us fast.
An out-of-this-world kind of faith…
Wherever in the world you are this week – just take a moment to realise He is right there with you; in pleasure or in pain, in comfort or in crisis, in hardship or happiness – we cannot flee from His Presence for “neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord!” (Romans 8.39)
Maybe for some of us space is the “final frontier” – not the big black space above us… but just space in our day, our week, our lives to stop and acknowledge Him – space to be with Him and for Him to be with us, space to talk to Him and for Him to guide us, space to let go off other concerns for a while to be held by Him.
It won’t cost as much as a flight of the Blue Origin, but the cost of not finding the space to be with God is really high.
What William Shatner described, looking back down at the planet we call home, is similar to what other astronauts have described as a “reality-altering” experience – the perspective you get seeing the whole world like that… realising how small we are in the grand scheme of things, realising how we are all part of this one planet. Astronaut Edward Mitchell (the sixth person ever to walk on the moon!) described it like this:
In outer space you develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the Moon, international politics look so petty.
EDWARD MITCHELL (1971)
And that’s just the view from the moon(!)… but in prayer we get “come up higher” (Rev 4.1) to:
…approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need!
In good times and hard, we need God’s perspective – the view from the throne… and the incredible news is that that ticket has been paid for us!
Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, His body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
I was bought a book for Christmas by Nick Fawcett, called Poems to Help you Pray, and I’d love to share one of his prayers here in the hope that it might serve as something of a launch pad for each of us today into the adventure of pursuing His Presence…
For the days when You feel near,
for the times when all is clear,
when Your presence seems so real
that it colours all I feel –
for the blessing of such days,
Lord, accept my grateful praise
For the times when You feel far,
when I wonder where You are,
when I call and call again
but my prayers appear in vain –
when it seems You just don’t care,
even then, Lord, You are there.
For the truth that day by day
You are present, come what may:
when I see You, when I don’t,
when I trust You, when I won’t,
for the peace these thoughts impart,
Lord, I come with thankful heart.