It is one of my Mornings at Mum’s. The early morning is quiet; thinking and praying time, of course with the requisite cup of fresh brewed, delicious, black coffee.
From where I sit, by the window, my eye travels over a hawthorn covered stone wall; a patch of grass; two gray green, weathered wooden fences, between the roofs of two bungalows, to a bedroom window in a white house. The house was Mum and Dad’s last home together and the bedroom was Dad’s. It was from that room he was taken by paramedics, in December 2002, suffering with the pneumonia from which he never recovered.
“Relationship—with God and with people—nothing else matters:” that was the last wisdom that Paul’s dad, a pastor who cared passionately about doctrine, shared with him just before he died in 1986.
In comparison to relationship, some of what had seemed so important; wasn’t. It was all very simple in the end.
Both of our fathers struggled with relationships, in different ways. I think of that now as I look at that curtained bedroom window. The hurts of life damage our ability to relate. We try to heal the hurt with things that soothe and numb the pain; things that ultimately steal and kill.
Drugs; alcohol; food; shopping; the internet; ministry; approval, etc., take space in our lives that relationship with God, family and friends were meant to fill. Sometimes it takes a lifetime to learn this and some never do. Even knowing it, it is easy to forget and gravitate to old patterns.
Replacements for God have a sting in their tail. They rob us of health; eat up the prime years of youth and productivity; tear down relationships and lay waste to lives. At their best they are second best.
If it is true that relationship matters above all else, then the neglect and perversion of relationship may be the root sin from which all others flow. For we were created to love and enjoy God and one another.
Yet, wounded as we are, God will bind up our brokeness if we only give it to him.
And this is our hope when we turn to him...
Isaiah 44:22 (New Living Translation
22 I have swept away your sins like a cloud.
I have scattered your offenses like the morning mist.
Oh, return to me,
for I have paid the price to set you free.”
Joel 2:23-25 (New International Version)
23 Be glad, O people of Zion,
rejoice in the LORD your God,
for he has given you
the autumn rains in righteousness.
He sends you abundant showers,
both autumn and spring rains, as before.
24 The threshing floors will be filled with grain;
the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.
25a "I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten...