Daily Verse – Three Things on Your To-Do List.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

Romans 12:12 NIVUK

We are used to productivity gurus and time-management geniuses giving us the number one rule – have one main thing on your list, have five things, have as many as you can think of but only to the top two, etc. etc.

In this verse, the Apostle Paul puts three things on our to-do list.

Hope. Patience. Prayer.

The same three things every day.

Hope – elpis – to anticipate, to be expectant, to have confidence.

Patience – hupomenó (this is the only occurence) – to endure, to remain, to have fortitude, to persevere.

Prayer – proseuché – to pray, to worship, to be earnest in prayer.

Paul is always quite clever in the way he gives us the ‘big focus’ of our faith but also adds in qualifiers almost without notice.

Not only are we to have Hope, Patience, and Prayer, as central to our days, but we also have rejoicing, affliction, and constancy.

We are to rejoice in our hope – chairó – be glad, cheerful, calmly happy.

We are to be patient in affliction – thlipsis – trouble, burden, under pressure.

We are to be faithful in prayer – proskartereó – to continue, be diligent, to adhere to.

Paul’s to-do list isn’t one to be ticked off and consigned to the ‘completed’ archive or filing cabinet of diaries, it remains our priority everyday. We may not tick the items off everyday, but we still have the chance to do it the following day.

So rejoice in the hope of our lives with God.

Be patient in difficult and troublesome times.

Be faithful in our Prayers to God and he will lead us in both hope and difficulty.

Daily Verse – Psalm 46:10

YouVersion

Be still and know that I am God.

Try it right now.

One minute – sit and be still. No thoughts. Breathing calmly. Close your eyes, but no napping.

If you managed that, well done!

Most people freak out and think of all the things they have to do or should be doing or want to do.

Our society thrives on being busy.

Often times it even tries to fool you by referring to it as being engaged, active, purposeful.

Being in control of your schedule, your day, your work, your free time, is great, but it is always worth while stepping back and checking to see if you are really still in control.

On anxious days, worry and panic easily pervade our thoughts and actions.

God tells us, no matter what our circumstances to be still.

The Hebrew word for ‘still’ is harpū, and this verse is the only place it occurs – how’s that for emphatic?

Cease. Stop what you are doing or thinking.

And know that I am God.

Ūdeū – be sure, acknowledge, take knowledge, investigate, perceive, learn, know.

The word occurs 9 times in the O.T.

Be still and know.

Take time out and be aware that God is with you.

No matter what the circumstances, God is God.

Changes.

Change happens all the time.

For the most part we probably don’t notice.

This last year, the changes have been much more obvious for most of us.

I expect we all have reflected a good deal on our lives and what we do with them.

I continue to stumble through writing, still convinced that this is what I want to do, despite the fitful bursts of words.

I have begun to engage with visual art.

One of my earliest memories is of painting.

I always watch art programmes and read about art history.

I know how much colours effect me, so I began to play with colours once again.

Music is never far away.

Faith holds me together.

I am hoping to share an expression of my current creative pilgrimage.

Part of the journey is realising that you always have been and will continue to be ‘on the Way’.

The Way After – Day #8

Photo by Benjamin Davies on Unsplash

Puente La Reina to Estella – 21.8km.

A steady walk along dirt roads in an undulating landscape.

That’s how we expect life to be.

There will be some more difficult uphill walking and some summits to look out from.

There will be some easier down hill walking and some hollows where it is difficult to see ahead.

Part of making any journey easier is having the right tools.

When Sando and I used to go winter mountaineering in the Cairngorms, we took some extra tools – ice axe and crampons.

It is difficult to describe walking up a the steep side of a mountain in snow with just crampons and your ice axe for extra purchase. Ropes are not always needed.

When there isn’t any snow, the same route is difficult even with ropes.

Along the way you meet people with more tools than you.

And you may have different tools to them.

Sando had the tools of being relaxed. Able to immediately see any difficult situation in a humorous way. He broke the ice of tension easily

Like peregrinos on the Way, you may walk with some people for a short time or most of the route. You may just rest and share food or water, or wine! You may chat about the small things of life or the large questions which come to us all eventually.

Sando never asked why him in anything. 

We never questioned why he developed a brain tumour. 

It was there and he had a life to be lived.

He hoped to see certain milestones with his family.

Perhaps there was a little more impatience for some of these milestones to come more quickly than otherwise might have been the case.

The destination for this day’s journey is Estella.

Development of this town began in the 11th Century after a shooting star led people to a cave where they discovered a statue of the Virgin Mary. The town quickly grew as did its reputation, soon being known to travellers as ‘Estella la Bella’, Estella the beautiful.

Look out for what is beautiful around you.

The Way After – Day #7

Pamplona to Puente la Reina – 23.8km.

A steady route up to and down from Alto de Perdon, at 790m. 

In medieval times there was both a Basilica with a pilgrim hospice and a hermitage there. Today there are forty windmills along the skyline generating electricity.

There is also a metal sculpture of peregrinos on their ‘way’. This was erected by the energy company who put up the windmills.

The inscription for the installation translates as ‘where the way of the wind meets the way of the stars’.

A common adage urges us to reach for the stars. Reaching for, isn’t grasping however.

Wind is often a symbol of change or positivity – the winds of change, a chill wind blowing, or a fair wind, a warming wind.

The Greek words for the Spirit of God are ‘pneuma hagion’ and ‘pneuma’ can also be translated as breath or even wind.

In Camino lore, Santiago’s – St. John – bones were discovered after shepherds saw stars fall into a field.

This image of the wind meeting the stars is to me a ‘thin’ place. A place where the boundary between the spiritual and the temporal are so close they practically touch.

The Romantic poets of the 18th/19th centuries believed that when they walked out into nature they were drawing closer to their imagination and creativity, because they were close to their Creator.

There are periods of life where we draw closer to God.

Perhaps it is better put that we are more acutely aware of how close God is to us during these periods of time.

Many of mine and Sando’s exploits were outside – closer to nature – for me closer to my God.

Looking back it is easier to see where the wind met the stars.

We walked. We trekked. Through mud. On firm ground. Through rain. In sunshine.

We appreciated the opportunities we had and they were a frequent source of remembrances and tall stories.

One of the last ‘events’ we marked was travelling out to a particular cafe which we always frequented in October, as part of a wider group trek.

Due to the virus the trek didn’t happen but we gained a small window with which to strike out for the cafe part.

It was just the two of us. His health wasn’t great. We still treated it like old times. 

Sando cried – but I’m sure that had more to do with the fact that they had sold out of his favourite steak pie!

The Daily Verse – Micah 6:8

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8

Do you feel like you walk with God?

Do you act justly and love mercy?

The Prophet Micah was declaring the Word of the Lord, sometime between 750 and 686BC, and amongst his prophecies he predicted the fall of Samaria, which was Israel’s capital.

In this verse, the He is God and the O mortal is just another way of referring to men/women. The latter phrase emphasises the limited life span of humans compared to God who is eternal.

The question is then set what does the Lord require of you?

Over the years many individuals and religious leaders have answered this question.

One of Jesus’ primary conflicts with the Pharisees was by holding them to account for the rules they set upon the people but didn’t hold to themselves.

Jesus phrased his answer to this question out of the first two Commandments of Moses – You shall love the Lord your God above all others and your neighbour as yourself.

This was the sum of the Law.

Micah in verse 8 phrases his answer in a very similar way – act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.

The Hebrew word mercy is ‘hesed’, which can also be translated as loving-kindness or grace.

God emphasises action and reminds the people what one of our privileges, maybe even one of mankind’s purposes was, as God walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

If you deal with others justly, prize mercy or forgiveness, then you will walk. . .with God but in a manner which doesn’t prize that fact over the heads of others.

I’m not sure any of us would openly admit to being ‘good’. We would probably hedge our bets and say we try to be.

This verse in Micah tells us that God has shown us what is ‘good’ and we certainly have the perfect example of that in Jesus.

This might not be what you might think, however.

Jesus argued with people. He turned people away. He told some that they were condemned by their own words and actions.

Now I’m not necessarily suggesting that we go out and argue with people and point out their faults, but we shouldn’t either be trapped into thinking being a Christian means being passive and lacking strength.

Micah also tells us that God wants something from us – and it is quite simple, rather than a lot of the trappings of religion we maybe used to.

We are to act honestly and with integrity in our speech and actions, within our families and with the others we come into contact with.

We are to have a heart for loving-kindness to those around us.

We are to walk humbly, to not think of ourselves in any great way, or that we are better than others, because we walk with God.

Like Adam and Eve, like Noah, like Abraham, like Moses, and like Jesus, we walk with God. In His company and in His care, all the time we walk.

Walk with God – it is an action. We need to move forward. Take steps. Journey with Grace, Justness, and in Humbleness.