Sunshine, Hailstones… and the Ups and Down of Life

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Like the changeable Irish weather, this was a mixed week for me. On Tuesday I was at a funeral which was attended by many hundreds of people. The deceased, at 51 was quite young and had many close friends, acquaintances and loved ones, having three brothers and six sisters who all, of course, had extended family. When I reached there, after a two hour drive, I could scarcely believe how packed the village was with cars. The church could not contain everyone and so I, along with many others, was directed to the church hall – which was also packed. I felt a great sense of sadness for many reasons that day and after the funeral stood for a while at my parents’ grave. I longed to talk to them about my feelings… that overwhelming sense of loneliness. There were things I longed to say to them, that only they would understand. After that I was standing in a supermarket car park when I noticed that I was the only one left in the car park which was about to close… A voice sang over the intercom in that great empty space, somehow echoing my melancholy mood.

But then I reminded myself… the Lord was with me during all of that day, upholding me and comforting me. I remembered how, on reaching the village, I prayed that He would provide me with a parking spot – somewhere. It seemed impossible as the streets were so packed. Miraculously, my simple prayer was answered in an instant, when I noticed a man putting a little boy into a car seat. Noticing my predicament, he smiled and waved for me to take his spot when he had gone. And that spot was very close to the church which was good, as I had been delayed on the journey. It was good to be there, if only to give a comforting hug to the bereaved and to speak words of comfort to others that I met.

The following day I made another journey in my own County Meath, to distribute books and again I felt the Lord’s guidance and comforting Presence. It was a sunny day as I set out and I felt much encouraged as I travelled to the town of Ashbourne where the large modern library stocks my books. Ashbourne, although a small town, has a cosmopolitan feel, with many people of different nationalities living here. Driving on through little hamlets, villages and rural areas, I passed through the small towns of Ratoath – and Dunshaughlin which also has a library where the books are available. I soon arrived at my last destination – the quaint town of Trim. Here I was reminded of my parking incident of the previous day; I was about to buy the parking ticket, when a business man who was simultaneously about to leave the car park came over and kindly offered me his ticket, which he said was valid for the rest of the day. Again, I felt the Lord caring for me and encouraging me.

Even the traffic warden had a smile on his face, when he turned his attention from sticking a parking ticket on some unfortunate’s car, to face the river where ducks and tiny ducklings were waddling by the waters’ edge. Sunshine sparkled on the rippling river Boyne where the quivering leaves of lovely trees were reflected. “Aren’t they so beautiful?” I said, as I snapped a photograph of the little ducklings and their duck chaperones.

“Indeed they are,” affirmed the traffic warden warmly, as he too took out his camera – which would normally have been put to more unpopular use!

It was good to meet the lady in the Trim Visitor Centre again, to visit the little library and to talk to Antonia in Antonia’s Bookstore which also stocks my books.

Heavy rain and hail came down just as I reached the car. Again, the Lord prevented me from getting totally drenched! I sat eating a sandwich as I looked out at it in fascination. ‘What a changeable day,’ I thought, ‘just like life itself… one minute the sun is splitting the trees and the next thing you see a black threatening sky, hear a peal of thunder and soon there are hailstones banging off your windscreen…’

And yet the Lord is with those who love and serve Him through all the weary ways in life – He is ever- present in the sunshine and ever caring in the storms. As I recall the ducks attending to their young, I am reminded of the Song of Moses in Deuteronomy 32v11, about an eagle this time… “As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings…” so the Lord does lead us as He led Moses.

He cares for, protects and guides His children; He bears them up and they shelter in the shadow of His wings. Yes… and how He loves all the people of this world, desiring that they would accept His greatest gift of all: the gift of the Lord Jesus Christ who died to save us all.

“O Lord, how manifold are thy works! In wisdom thou hast made them all; the earth is full of thy riches.” (Psalm 104v24) How the deity of Christ is upheld in this verse… “And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:” (Ephesians 3v9) Our wonderful Creator – and our loving Redeemer… He cares for me. Why not cast all your care upon Him for… “He careth for you.” (1Peter 5v7)

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