Thursday March 5, 2009
As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth . . . so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:10–11.
Achievement: what we all desire unless the reverses of life have despaired us of all hope. Without hope, despair leads to inaction. Hope, like love and faith, is necessary to give life meaning and direction. The text above provides hope to those who trust its message: that God will give meaning to life whatever setbacks are experienced. During our time here in England, someone suggested that the English are “dogged.” It is perhaps the heritage of faith that has given the English the reputation of obstinacy—particularly the ability to cope when their backs are against the wall.
Over the last two days we have been able to complete some of the final nostalgic trips that we planned. While our family was here, we would like to have travelled to the town of Upminster, east of London, where my sister and I grew up, but it was too far and we had insufficient time. However, on Tuesday, Ann joined my sister Heather and me as we were able to visit the home of our childhood, the school we attended and other of the places we recalled from our childhood. We even stopped for a cream tea in the same department store that our mother and grandmother would take us after school.
Of particular interest was the house that my sister and I grew up in. Built in 1934, our parents had bought it new and lived in it until our move to Eastbourne in 1950. Now, it sports a poorly planned addition built by the current owners. They were very gracious and invited us in to look the place over. But the interior exhibited all the signs of the fading hope they expressed; every room was littered, stacked and cramped with belongings, decorations were in poor condition and peeling from the walls.
In an attempt to start clean up, they erected a large shed in the back garden to store some of this stuff, but poor health of the wife and a failing husband’s business were clearly taking their toll and undermining whatever motivation they had left. In fact, the impression left was a problem getting worse, not better. Ann in her usual and resourceful way made suggestions to encourage them to persevere.
I left with the sense that a fading struggle to cope had mastered them and thankfulness that we had a hope that transcends the failing abilities of life; that God’s plan for our lives is still a reachable goal, and that His word and work in us will achieve the purpose for which he called us.