The Apostle Paul wrote this statement in his letter to the church in Colossae:
“Keep your roots deep in Jesus, build your life on him” (2:7)
This was a key verse in my coming to faith in my early 20s and is one I have tried to live by. Exactly what this means for me is still evolving in good times and bad. I have experienced the joy of having children and grandchildren and of hearing my daughter and son in-law declare that:
“as for me and my house we will follow the Lord”.
On the other side of the spectrum of life I have seen my husband cope with depression, mental illness and the redundant feelings brought on by early retirement from the medical profession. Throughout all of life’s ups and down I have tried to praise God in all circumstances so lines from hymns and songs are often in my thoughts.
The idea of God having a good and perfect plan for me is not a concept I have found easy to embrace. When I returned to teaching after having 3 children, I did some supply work and applied for a couple of biology posts. I got as well prepared for the interviews as I could, prayed and was actually doing the job at the time. However, I was unsuccessful. I remember walking home singing these words through the tears of disappointment:
“He has known me, and he has loved me from before the world began,
how wonderful to be a part of God’s amazing plan”
It wasn’t long after this that I got the Chemistry job, from which I have just retired, that I loved for 20 years. So I was never meant to teach Biology: God’s perfect plan was back on course!
In another turn of events, a different story, my husband became mentally ill. This is a situation we are both still trying to make sense of. Where is God’s good and perfect plan in mental illness, for a doctor having to give up his career early. My life through this was difficult and lonely. Stuart felt supported through much of what happened, but I felt lost and almost abandoned. What was going on? Where was God’s plan in all this? After much thought I have come to realise that to follow Jesus means to follow him in his suffering too. I don’t claim to understand this but when Jesus said:
“come and follow me” his life path would eventually lead to the cross. In my experience keeping your roots deep in Jesus brings great joy but also suffering.
One of the things I feel God has continually asked of me over the years is to look after the people he puts in front of me. This in a small way has helped me share the love of Jesus. This has included many different people from family and friends to complete strangers and anything from a shared cup of tea to board and lodgings for many weeks. The past 6 months has made that difficult. The restrictions we have all endured has made it harder to look after anyone. Like many of you I offered to help out during lockdown. I was never asked to deliver a bag of shopping or collect anything for anyone. I couldn’t help with caring for my grandchildren here in Inverness or visit my daughter in Aberdeen to help with a new baby. I felt lost and redundant yet the soundtrack in my head was playing again. This time it was another children’s song:
“Your love for me travels farther than far.
I can’t imagine just how big you are”
God is love. His love is still there.
The situation with the virus is a moving feast. At the time of writing this we can still meet family and friends in small groups but talk of Christmas is looming and people are starting to speculate about what we will and will not be able to do. Time will tell. Through all of this I continue to believe God is there sending out his love “farther than far” to embrace us all as we strive to keep our roots ‘deep in Jesus’.