A Bend in the River

I love going for walks in new places. Just setting off in one direction and seeing where it might take me, what wonders I might discover. Recently, while on holiday in Wales, my family and I visited a place known as Penllergaer Valley Woods (I could take several guesses at how that might be pronounced and get it wrong every time!). It’s a fairytale place of peaceful lakes, babbling brooks and noisy waterfalls. A beautiful place to grab our trekking poles and follow both the beaten and unbeaten tracks.

A little while into our walk, we came across a wide bend of a stream. The stream was quite shallow, and if you were prepared to get your feet wet, it would be no trouble at all to cross. However, crossing the stream to the teasing and enchanting wooded view of the other side was made more comfortable than that as several stones made for a tempting hop, skip and a jump without dipping your toes into the cooling water.

My two boys decided to take up the ‘challenge’ and began their adventure. My 13-year-old eldest son, Noah, quickly made it over. He has this knack of looking like he might fall over any moment when doing something like this, but he rarely ever does. He has a sense of balance; it’s just in places we don’t usually expect. My other son, Nathanael, who’s 11-years-old, has a much more cautious approach to adventuring and takes a little coaxing at times. I was so pleased that he decided to give this a go without too much cajoling.

Noah had crossed over the waterway and come back twice, while Nathanael had made it halfway and in fact, was ‘stuck’ at a place that needed him to take a little more of a jump rather than just stretching over with his leg. It was at this point that Noah noticed Nathanael’s predicament and with a lot of parental pride, I watched him take the time to show his younger brother how he might make his next move. Patiently Noah went back and forth repeating the same step, explaining to Nathanael where to place his foot, how much effort it would involve and where he needed to land his foot once he’d made the jump. To a great cheer from all of us, Nathanael eventually made it.

Noah took the time to show Nathanael how to succeed. He didn’t just tell him, or explain to him from afar, he got stuck into the problem with him, and together they worked it through and made it out.

It’s so easy to observe when something isn’t working and shout your solution from the sidelines. It’s easy to watch a football game on the TV with all the different camera angles and slo-mo and tell the referee how he isn’t doing his job correctly. It’s easy to read the headlines, have no access to detailed data, and declare to anyone who’ll listen what exactly our politicians are doing wrong in any given situation. Solving problems is easy when you don’t have to do anything except give your opinion and judge from afar.

Noah could have made it across and admired his new surroundings leaving Nathanael still stuck on his rock, ignoring his cries for help. Nathanael could have given up and turned back dejected and feeling useless.

Imagine a creator of the world, looking at how things are going with his creation and the beings he has created to look after it, shouting and judging them from his place of comfort and peace. Imagine a creator who watches, but doesn’t interfere, happy to tell them how he would do it through a prophet and a holy book, but giving no assistance. A creator that doesn’t want to muck in with his creation in helping them solve their problems and get his hands dirty. This isn’t a creator that I would want anything to do with and not one that I recognise from my Christian worldview.

I believe in a God that wants to talk with us, work with us and wants to bless us. Why do I think this? Because of Jesus Christ – The Messiah.

Jesus stepped out of eternity and got down into the dirt with us. In a messed up, broken and sinful world, God Himself, the real Creator of all things, became flesh and walked among us. He experienced our pain and sufferings, our temptations and human weaknesses. Jesus even suffered a cruel, undignified and horrific death. He was fully human, though remained fully God and in doing so, our Creator knows what it is to be like us. Christ’s death and subsequent Resurrection show us how to succeed, how to solve our problems and how to experience His view of life and existence.

We could all, like Nathanael, stay stuck on the same old problematic rock, not willing or simply scared to take the next step. Or we could look up from our problem and see that Jesus is stood right there with us, ready to hold our hand and work through the issue with us. It says in the Bible that He is standing at the door of your life desiring to enter in. He is not waiting in some faraway place for you to come to Him. Jesus is actively knocking on the door of your heart, patiently waiting for you to make your move.

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