She could feel the ache running through her body, could feel the weight of a mind starved from rest, and yet as she saw a light break the horizon she was reminded of greater things. She was reminded of greater things. She was reminded that though she be weak and merely human there was a far greater power. And now, with two sets of footsteps, a journey was drawn across the city. Walking, walking and now still. The footprints angled themselves towards the beautiful domed architecture. She looked upon St. Paul’s, followed every detail of the architecture. She followed the line now drawing itself from the very pinnacle of the structure, pointing upwards, pointing on. And in that instant she felt His protection, she felt the warmth of His wings surround her.
My week began in a beautiful house in the middle of the Lake District. We were away from the rest the world, enjoying the benefits of a holiday, a separation from the chaos of the world. I had been invited along by the Jakeman family, to whom I have grown close to through my friendship with Beth. I was sharing a room with Kez, and felt it could not be taken for granted that each morning we woke to the view of the beautiful hills and mountains, to God’s world shown in great grandeur.
My stay in the Lake District was wonderful, I was blessed with the countryside and with being surrounded by a family who loved Jesus and who had welcomed me so eagerly into their home. My only full day in the Lake District, as I stayed for two nights only, was the Sunday. We woke early (for me) and enjoyed a delicious breakfast at the end of which Alastair, Beth’s dad read a prayer aloud and considered its importance. Although I cannot remember the words of the prayer exactly, it spoke of the beauty of God’s creation and of His presence in the world. I was reminded of how God to me is the only explanation for the beauty of the world that is both so intricate and precise. At church that morning, a very welcoming evangelical church in a town nearby, the preacher spoke about the beautiful symbol: the symbol that Jesus is ‘the Bread of Life’. The sermon reminded me of how Jesus can be, if we allow, in every part of our lives, how he has proided for us in every part of our lives. Over the next couple of days I enjoyed many hearty meals, swimming for the first time in several years and a windswept, wet and yet sunny walk up into what I think I’ll call the mountains. When we see the beauty of God’s creation in the glory of nature and the peace of the countryside it is hard to forget that God not only created everything but is sustaining everything too.
And yet within the space of a day I travelled from the deepest countryside of the Lake District to the very centre of the UK’s most crowded city, London. And here, in every moment, I found God too. This was the city in which I now lived, in which I had found my first church, the church to which I now belong. I had a wonderful time in London, my mum and I had come to see previews of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Part One and Two) and although I can’t disclose any details (#KeepTheSecrets) I felt that God was teaching me in the very story of the play, that I was being taught in every moment of our trip. One thing that has struck me when we had talked about God’s creation in the Lake District is what Faith, Beth’s mum, had said. She spoke of how we may find it easier to see God in moments and places of natural beauty when we must actually strive to see God in everything, to see the love, kindness and glory of God in every place we know. In London, besides its depth of Christian history, I know that there are a family of loving churches across the city, wishing to reach out, to be a support for the individuals of this bustling city and to tell everyone about who Jesus is.
But by saying that God is everywhere, I am not only referring to space, I do not simply mean that God occupies every space in the world. I mean that, looking back I see God in every moment of my life and that, looking forward, I see the promise of God’s plan. God was with me long before I knew the truth, before I knew who Jesus was and who he could be and has become to me. I see God in the actions of individuals, in the acts of everyday grace and kindness. I see God reach out to those in suffering, I see His blessing in moments of joy. I see His love in the love that surrounds me. I see God everywhere.
For a large period of my life I have not known or recognised God’s presence in my life. I see now that God has been calling me, has been bringing me to Him and has allowed me to understand what Jesus has done for us. I see now that God’s plan is good and does not stop with my realisation of His truth. Over the past year I have been taught many things in ways that I wouldn’t have imagined, God has given me many things, a family with my new church, a wonderful flat with many valuable friends and a group of amazing Christian friends through our CU.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
Again, I was struck by words that were said in the Lake District. Kez and I had travelled by train to Penrith. Across from the station were the ruins of Penrith Castle. As we were sat drawing under the shelter of some ruins, Kez excitedly realised that when God had intended the castle to be built, many hundreds of years ago, he had known that Kez and I, that day would sit underneath the ‘Red Tower’ and we would both know God. God’s plan is personal, he knows every detail of our lives, and yet in parallel we are allowed personal decisions too. God knew me, my entire life, even before I knew him.
And thinking of God’s plan for me brings me, of course, to think of God’s greater plan. His plan that focuses upon everyone. His plan fulfilled in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. God had always intended to send Jesus to earth, to the cross, where he took on the punishment that we deserved for our sin in our place. God had always intended for forgive us, to forget our sins, if only we trust in the sacrafice and resurrection of Jesus.
And so calling back to the sermon in the Lake District, it feels important to consider our need for Jesus, whoever and wherever we are, and in every aspect of our life. It began with a reading from the gospel of John, Chapter 6, verses 25 – 40:
When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” So they asked him, “What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” “Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.” Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” At this the Jews there began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?” “Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me
Our preacher spoke of how, no matter how wonderful worldly food is, we are always looking for more, we cannot be satisfied. He speaks of how ‘bread’ has become adapted into to the very language of livelihood and work, how ‘working for bread’ refers to working for a living, of how ‘breadwinner’ describes the member(s) of the family who provides for the rest. He takes this images and shows us, from the extract of the Bible, how the symbol of bread represents Jesus. Jesus promises bread that will satisfy us, bread that he will eat and will never be hungry, ‘my father gives you the bread from heaven’. This bread is Jesus, in Jesus we can place our security and in Jesus we find our satisfaction when it cannot be found anywhere else. The same God who provided the Israelites with bread in the wilderness provides for us today. God gives life, and in Jesus we find eternal life. We can depend upon in Jesus. We can be sure that whoever we are, whatever time it is and wherever we find ourselves to be, Jesus is waiting for us, ready to reach out is hand and accept us as children of God, if only we will turn to him.
And writing this, I feel that might must end with I repeat of what has been shown clearly to me in Vaughan Robert’s book True Friendship. Jesus is the closest friend we could possibly have, I believe he is our only hope of satisfaction. In every moment of our lives, he is there:
Only Christ can meet our deepest longing, as he is the greatest friend of all. He is the closest of all friends, who does indeed stick closer than a brother… as Christians we are never alone…in the midst of confusion and darkness, Christ is with us.