Hazel Adamson Writes...

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There is a well known poem by Rudyard Kipling called 'IF...' which goes on to explore the IF's of life...
IF you can keep your head above water; IF you can trust yourself; IF you can wait; iF you can dream; etc...... yours is the earth and everything that's in it....

We have lived through a period of time with such IF's.
IF the wet market in Wuhan had operated hygienically; IF foreign governments had spoken sooner of the potential hazard; IF those in authority had acted sooner; IF, if, if.....
No certainties — only if's.

However as Christians we do have certainties and it is worth reminding ourselves of them.
Let's be clear that throughout this time of plague God has not done a runner!
His presence is still with us 24/7. God's Son, Jesus the Christ, is still offering salvation by his blood shed on Calvary, and the Holy Spirit is still empowering our lives.
God is still with us, beside us and within us.

Even IF our faith has taken a bit of a battering, or our hope is a bit more fragile, God's ocean of salvation and love has not changed and his arms of compassion remain open wide.
Our faith, no matter how small or crushed, and our obedience to his word, is that which keeps us strong and sure on the narrow path, whatever is happening.
People are connecting to services and worship through YouTube or Zoom, but to connect to God we simply have to pray/ talk to Him and to read his word — the Bible.
IF we read the Bible, especially the first 5 books of the OT, as well as the NT, we can find reassurance — like reading a map — directing us to the way, the truth, the life. (John 14:6)

For many our country appears to be in a dark place. With darkness comes fear and anxiety. A reading of hope used at Advent is Isaiah 9: 'v1a...that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever.......v2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light — a light that will shine on all who live in the land where death casts its shadow'.

Interestingly we in the West define our day as daylight turning into the darkness of night; but God moves from night to day; from darkness to light.
The Biblical concept, in Genesis 1: 3-5, (NIV) is that God's day begins in the evening — during the dark hours — and turns into the light of day.

Children of faith are born again from the darkness of sin into the light of forgiveness and restoration. (1 Thessalonians 5:5)
In Christ we can move from weakness to strength; despair to hope; guilt to innocence; from tears to joy; and from death to life.
And this way of ordering our day can bring hope to the lonely, the bereaved, the despairing, raising the hope to a better time.

This concept of negative to positive, is continued throughout scripture, including the crucifixion, when the land turned to darkness at Jesus' death and came forth into the light of the Resurrection. (Matthew 27:45)
IF we live according to God's order of time, we naturally move from darkness to light.

A key feature of light is that it affects its surroundings. Light dispels the fear of darkness so that we can see things more clearly. (Matthew 5:14-16)
IF we activate the light, whether a bulb or a candle, it has such a positive effect.

One of the biggest IF's in the Bible, which could be appropriate at this time, is in 2 Chronicles 7:14
"IF my people which are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

IF — such a small word, with a large meaning which can be life changing. Yet this small word can also be such a challenge to us today, because IF can have a negative connotation.

So....... Where are you in the IF of life?

As always God gives a choice ...IF...... we heed his call on our lives. IF we are obedient to that call.
God's IF is different to the IF of the poem.. ..yours is the earth and everything that's in it.
IF we choose God and His Son Jesus the Christ, who promises salvation through faith, to lift us from the darkness, metaphorical or actual, God will spiritually put a new heart within us and his Holy Spirit will guide and bless us. (John 3:16) Then .....yours is the Kingdom in Heaven.

What better time to do it, or renew it now, this Advent.

Hazel Adamson — 26th November 2020

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