Beauty surrounds us, but we usually need to be walking in a garden to know it - Rumi
This week I want to continue the theme of Hope as we progress on our Lenten journey.
Reading the prisoners stories in Prison Hope, the book that the Churches Together in Britain and Ireland have recommended as the Lent course for 2018, I have been struck by the number of times prisoners have wanted to change their lives, have called out to ‘something’ or ‘someone’ in the night, yet their cries do not seem to have been answered. Or maybe they have met up with old mates whose lives have been changed by meeting Jesus and the offender says to himself: “I could do with some of that!” But nothing in their life changes.
In his Gospel Luke tells the story of Jesus on His way to Jericho being stopped by a blind man. Jesus asks him: ‘‘‘What do you want me to do for you?” “Lord, I want to see,” he replied’. Luke 18:41(NIV). Now, you might expect this to be the most natural reaction of a blind man, but dig a bit deeper. All his life he had relied on others. Once he received his sight he would have to fend for himself, get a job, a house, and take on responsibilities for himself. Not something to be entered on lightly. He would need to have considered all his options; to really want his sight back, with all that that entailed, to be prepared for the new life offered by Jesus.
Perhaps the answer then is that the offender was not ready, not prepared to take on those responsibilities; the drink or drugs was an easier way out. Drunk or drugged he would not be able to think about, let alone take on, any responsibility for himself or his family. Yet in each of the stories the prisoner finally realises that things cannot go on in this way so that, usually with the help of another person, they have made a commitment to change their life by calling on Jesus for His help. And He was there ready and willing to welcome them and to walk with them.
So what about you? Are you ready to call upon Jesus to change your life? The Gospel reading for the third week of Lent tells of Jesus clearing the Temple Courts. He said: ‘Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!’ John 2:16 (NIV). In the same way let us use these last few weeks of Lent to clear our lives of the distractions that keep us from God. Let us prepare ourselves, to be ready to receive His gift of a new life in Christ. And remember we are not alone in this for as Paul said in his letter to Timothy: ‘Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst.’ 1 Timothy 1:15(NIV).
If Paul felt that then there is hope for each of us!
Peter is a father and a grandfather who has been retired from full time employment for a number of years