An elderly carpenter was ready to retire. Over many years he had built up a strong reputation for the quality of his work, attention to detail and vision for the future. He told his employer of his plans to leave the house building business in order to spend more time with his wife and family. His employer was sad to hear the news but asked one more thing from him; as a personal favour, would he consider building one more house? Reluctantly, the carpenter agreed and began straight away, but it soon became clear that his heart was not in his work. His usual high standards were missing, and he began to cut corners and use inferior materials. He hid his poor workmanship from view, but he knew that this was not his best. With the job completed his employer came to him and standing on the path leading to the front door, he handed him the keys to the property. “I hope you like it for this is now your house - it is my personal gift to you for your years of service.”
That was a shock. If he had only known, he was building his own house he would have done it very differently and now he was to live in a place he knew was inferior. When we are building for the future, every day matters; every choice and everything we do matters. A new year always tends to draw us to consideration of the future. What might this new year hold for us? What delights? What challenges? We might have a particular vision for the year for a special holiday, career move or home developments etc, but I wonder if you have ever considered a vision for the future of the church in your community? What would you like it to be like or look like? If you have never considered this, I encourage you to do so for God has a vision and a purpose for his church and for you as a part of it.
In Isaiah 43:1-7, we learn of God’s promise and love for us; that he has good things planned for us. He knows us by name, rescues us and will always be there for us. In Acts 8:9-17, we learn of God’s provision for us that we might have the power to live attractive lives that draw others in to the wonderful truth of who God is and in Luke 3: 15-17, 21-22, we learn of His purpose for us, that we should follow His leading with obedience that we might fully know and experience His love for us.
Stepping into something new can be quite alarming and a challenge because it requires us to move into new territory, into places where we have never been before and into things we have never experienced before. That is where trust and faith need to be applied. Last year, Sarah planned a holiday for us – I didn’t know much about it at all. I knew we needed a plane to get us there, I knew it was for a week, I knew it would be warmer than Wensleydale (which to be honest, at that time wouldn’t have taken much doing) … but here’s the thing; I stepped into that unknown because I trusted her. Because what I had come to learn of years of relationship with her was that she wanted good things for me. And so, I went on the adventure and was blessed enormously by it. That is how it is with God.
We have thousands of years of testimony to the goodness of His character, but it’s only through relationship with Him that we learn to trust for ourselves and be blessed by that trust. Every time we trust in him, we grow in faith and that step of obedience helps to build the future, the ‘house’, together with God. Blessings flow from obedience to Him and there are so many people who are waiting to be blessed by an introduction to the reality of Jesus in their lives through our sharing of these encounters.
May 2019 be a year where we give ourselves to this adventure with a new heart; mindful that every day and every choice we make matters, as together with God we help build His vision for the future. One full of promise, provision and purpose. Happy New Year.
Rev Dave Clark
Vicar of the Benefice of Upper Wensleydale