Morning Zephyrs. Sorry I’m late – I had to check the spelling of Zephyrs. Julia here today- this is Roughley Cottage.
The darkest night I have ever seen, is when we went on a family holiday to Roughley Cottage in Scotland when I was a teenager. It was an old farmhouse, and had no electricity- it still had old fashioned gas lamps for light on an evening! It was pretty remote, with the only neighbours for miles being the new farmhouse down the road. It was a great cottage – it had a little lake next to it with a little rowing boat, and we would go walking in the surrounding countryside every day.
One day in particular, we had gone out for a walk and mistimed getting back. We reached the edge of the field with Roughley Cottage at the other side at around dusk. I say field – it was still a good 30 mins walk or so to get across it. Because it was so remote, there was no light from nearby streetlights or anything like that, and it was soon incredibly dark. The can’t see your hand in front of your face kind of dark. The only thing we could see, weirdly, was the vague outline of my sister’s wellies, which were unexpectedly incandescent. We did not deem this enough of a guide however, and so we all joined hands and made our way, in single file, across the pitch black field.
It is incredibly weird striding out in complete darkness. At one point the person leading us all did a complete U turn – the rest of us noticed and spoke up immediately, but it was pretty startling that this could happen without realising you were doing it.
I don’t remember whether they were there the whole time, or if they emerged at some point, but there were 3 pinpoints of bright light in the sky ahead of us. They looked like stars, although there were no others in the sky. We might have thought they were streetlights, except there weren’t any for miles. Anyway, whatever they were, we gladly walked in their direction.
Eventually, we reached a fence – the edge of the field! This was good news – even though it was an electric fence, and since we were all holding hands we received a communal electric shock! We just needed to follow it until we found the gate.
We later discovered, that had we followed it 2m to the right, we would have reached the gate… However, we went left and started fumbling up the hill. But with the fence nearby (which we were now carefully not touching) we knew that we could find the way.
We found our way home when my brother noticed some light – the 3 pinpoints in the sky? – reflecting off something, and realised it must be the little lake next to the cottage. We “gracefully” climbed over the fence and scrambled down the hill- massively grateful, and filled with relief, to be home.
When I sat down on the Monday after Sunday to prepare this post, I didn’t know what to write. I’ve always found starting to write things tricky, as many frustrated teachers will tell you, alongside many witnesses of late night day-before-the-deadline sessions at my university library! But this time was different. I would have loved to write about some solution, or piece of wisdom to make everything fine. But I don’t have the details of the happy ending where my brother finds the way home. I don’t even have the electric fence. But, maybe the fact that I don’t is where the pinpoints of unexplained light come in.
In Risen, St Peters youth group, on Sunday, we looked at Acts 3, where Peter and some others passed a lame man begging at the doorway of the temple. They didn’t have money to give him, but Peter said, “ I don’t have any silver and gold, but I do have something else I can give you. In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, stand up and walk”. We discussed this story, and one of the points that came up was that it was a good job Peter didn’t have any money on him- I’m sure the man appreciated the healing much more than he would have done for a few coins.
There are times when we feel hopeless, like there is nothing we can do in a situation, or nothing we can give. But a wise quote I once heard was that sometimes “our weaknesses become our strengths, because that is what we trust in God for.”
Whatever we haven’t got – hope, strength, answers – we have got a God who has shown us we can trust him time and time again. And no matter what we have got – darkness, grief, fear – it will never be too dark for God to be with us.
Here is one of my favourite songs. I don’t know if all the lyrics quite fit what I’m thinking – namely the bit where it says “whom then shall I fear?”, because lack of fear isn’t necessarily something that will resonate with everyone at the moment. But maybe that makes it all the more important to hear the rest of the lyrics, since God is so firmly with us whether or not we’re fearful.
Let’s pray that we can remember that God is the one we can trust, and the one we can rely on – no matter what.
Since Monday, I have eaten, slept and played with the cat – and those pinpoints of light are just a little clearer. Let’s pray that we can see God’s light whatever today brings.
Amen! Till next time.