Well, the days are beginning to draw out and the first signs of spring growth are now appearing, writes Rev Sydney Maitland. But the trees are still bare, the weather is blustery and the outlook is unpromising. It is a kind of in between time, when the Christmas celebrations are past, the warmth of spring is still a hope and we console ourselves with Burns Night and Valentine’s day.
But life itself is an in-between time: a level of conscious thought and self-awareness, which leads us from our mothers’ arms to our Heavenly Father’s judgment. It is a time when we do not know, let alone understand all that is, and when we are always aware that there is someone else who is better endowed than ourselves. They may be better educated, more accomplished, happier in their relationships and more successful in their occupations. They may have advantages of physique, intellect and application which leave us resentful and inadequate. And many will flaunt these things for their own evident satisfaction.
But that is not the end of the story, for when we face God, we will not be asked to account for what we have not been given: rather it will be a question of how we have used what we did have. It means therefore being able to speak of how we did use our time and money and relationships to edify and to support, to glorify God and to leave the world better than when we found it.
And none of this sets aside our need for the mercy that only God can give us and which we can find only by coming before Him in Jesus Christ. For it is He who opens our eyes, and heals our infirmities. He teaches us as He taught His disciples, and He both leads us forward and sends us out. It will be as we reflect on our lives in the context of being Jesus’ disciple that we will be able to recognise the things that He has given us. He will also help us to see through the bravado of false wealth and status into the sense of inadequacy and insecurity that often afflicts even the most successful and accomplished.
Indeed, there will be times when any and all of us may be called upon by God to help and support the very people who have made us envious, contemptuous or even hostile. For that is where the light will shine in the darkness, and the darkness will never be able to comprehend it.