Walking through the wilderness – transformation

Oh no! It’s been six months now. The bathroom is not good. The kitchen needs a re-plan and renovation. We’ve been sitting staring at wallpaper we didn’t choose, and a fireplace we don’t like. The floor coverings need renewing. The mad red daisies on the wallpaper have been banished for ever, thank the Lord. That’s before we start on the seating and the floor covering and…. I suppose we want to start again. The thing is with decorating – the dream seems so far away from the reality. Reduce to the basics until you can realise the dream. Life is like that….

Isn’t that a little bit like faith? You examine the faith you have, and gradually there comes an understanding. That’s only the beginning, and there needs to be change. Things needs stripping layer by layer – till you are left with an empty room. We need to empty ourselves before God. The thing is though, with people, we are none of us without fault- not one of us. Sometimes it is so hard for us even to recognise, let alone try and put things right.

………………………………………………………………………….Jack’s life had taken a turn for the worse. Two months ago he had been sleeping in his own bed. He had been studying for his A levels and looking at unis he could apply for to achieve his degree. Yes, he was getting offers- three grade As; two grade As and a grade B, oh and one unconditional offer for a university two hundred miles away from home. He was working hard but somehow its a lot of pressure when you are expected to get such good grades – or live such a long way away. His grades were going down. He couldn’t concentrate. He couldn’t focus. He was dragging himself out of bed every morning – not having done the work from the night before. No breakfast, staring into space. He’d been shutting himself in his room. He’d met up with a friend from primary school. They had lost touch when they changed schools and not seen each other since. Steve had left school when he was sixteen. He’d been on work training schemes but life wasn’t that good at home. There had been arguments and finally he had been relying on some of his old friends to put him up at night. Jack and Steve had taken to going out in the evening. They would meet up with others in town to talk. They were young, all of them, not much pocket money between them, so they went out and wandered the streets. They could look after themselves, or so they thought. They must have been unbelievably naive to think that they were safe in a group. This one particular evening’s buzz was interrupted by shouts, screams and sirens. There were police and ambulances after what seemed to have been an argument with a rival gang. It would never have occurred to Jack to arm himself with a knife, but Steve tried to defend them against the thugs who laid into their group. Worried parents were called and arrived at the hospital to see their offspring. Steve had a serious wound on his arm. Jack was also hurt, but well enough to return home with his parents. It could have been much worse. But when both these boys found themselves vulnerable and open to attack it opened their eyes to the fact that their lives were travelling along the wrong track. Both sets of parents were alerted to the worries and angst in their sons’ lives. The boys could share their problems. Hopefully they would be able to set their lives back in the right direction.

Jesus told a story about a man who had two sons. The elder son had been given his inheritance. Wanting to learn more about the world he travelled on squandering his inheritance. Finally after all the money had gone he found work working with pigs. But he was not treated well. There was a famine in the land and there was not even enough to eat. He was treated like a slave. Finally he came to his senses and thought to himself, “I don’t know why you are working here. Remember when you were living with your family. Even the servants were treated better than this.” The son decided that he must leave and return to his family, although he knew his father would be so disappointed with his behaviour. But then he planned on asking his father if he could be hired as one of the servants. Even that would be better than working with the pigs.

His father was waiting for him. And when he saw his son finally returning home he prepared the fatted calf and organised a happy family reunion. he son’s foolish escapade was forgiven and forgotten. He was welcomed as part of the family.

There are times when we are laid low- sometimes by ill health, sometimes by circumstances which are beyond our control. Other times we find ourselves empty and in despair through situations of our own making. We are at rock bottom, and only God can lift us out of the mire.

Heavenly Father,

Gracious and almighty God,

We are lost.

We have come

so far from home.

We have travelled many miles

in the wrong direction.

Darkness surrounds us.

Hope is gone.

Lord,

it is your hope

which can

lighten our darkness.

It is your love

which can embrace us

once again.

Lord,

in our emptiness

we ask you

to fill us.

In our despair

fill us with your hope.

We find our hope

in our Lord Jesus.

It is through his outstretched arms

that we recognise your love.

It is through

his hope

when all is lost

that our lives are lit.

Lord,

we come to you,

not trusting

in ourselves.

Through you

and through the cross

there comes the hope of new life

to cast away the darkness

that we might live

in your hope,

in your life and in your love

forever

Amen.

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