January 2015

      “Thank you for the card, Granddad” Euan flung his arms around me and hugged me tight.  Zach glanced over his shoulder, “Oh, yes, thank you for the thing.” and carried on with racing around.  “Did you figure out what the card meant, Euan?”  Euan had received a card from me inviting him to meet me at Hatherthwaite Station at 12.30 on December 13th to meet a special person.  “Well, I think the special person is Santa.”  “What else did you learn?” “I don’t know.”  “The place we’re meeting?”  “Oh, the Station! – Zach! Zach! We’re going to the Santa train, the one we went to when we were very little!”  Zach gave a little dance: “Oh, great!”

      “What else, Euan?”  “It says we’ll have lunch afterwards – Oh! We’re going to eat out!  Zach! Zach! We’re going to eat out after we go on the Santa train.”  Zach gave another little dance: “Oh, great!” he repeated.  Euan gave me another hug and Zach decided to follow suit.  It was very encouraging – I had made a resolution and here it was, working out!

      When we are young, time seems to move so slowly: I remember as a Wolf Cub talking to my Akela at camp – we had done so much I referred to something we had done that morning as ‘yesterday’; years later as a Cub Scout Leader, at a Cub Scout camp, Jamie Hunt turned to me and said, “Akela, you know that thing we were doing yesterday…” I broke in and grinning said, “Jamie, that was this morning – and when I was 9, I said the same thing to my Akela!” In contrast, as we get older, time seems to move faster and faster.  So I resolved to positively do something with my grandchildren.  I checked with parents and 4 out of 5 of the older children were available; I booked the train and sent them each an invitation through the post.  I’m writing this before the event, but Euan and Zach are already anticipating their day out and I guess Aedan and Maayana are acting similarly; for them, the days are dragging interminably, like the boy in the Lewis’ advert some years ago waiting to give his present, but for me, time is rushing by.

      I had a heart attack in 2010 and it made me re-assess my use of time; I had implicitly assumed that I had a lot of time to use, but now it seemed very precious.  Since then, I have had the joy of seeing the remaining two of my children married and the birth of four more grandchildren.  I figure that I can’t wait until I’m retired to spend quality time with them – I can’t even be certain that I will reach retirement, without making unwarranted assumptions! Hence I resolved to start setting up some days for treats we can do together – and put it into action immediately.

      I’m telling you this, not to look good, but because at the start of a New Year, many people make resolutions, most of which last until mid-January.  Jesus had some key advice for us: “…do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.  Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (The Bible, Matthew 6.34).  Jesus is telling us to live today rather than worry about a tomorrow that may not be ours.  He tells us to get our priorities right: “…seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (The Bible, Matthew 6.33), and then to enjoy the time allotted to us in his service.  Looking back over our lives, most of us become aware of large chunks of time that we could have used better, but allowed to drift away.  If minutes were gold coins, we’d be a lot more aware of how we spent them but have you ever paused to consider that God will ask us how we stewarded the time He gave us?  I remember well a vicar’s middle-aged but dying wife giving her testimony, “I believe God’s clocks keep perfect time.” about three weeks before she died. Consider what Jesus achieved in his short lifespan.  We tend to have a list which is roughly stuff, people, God: the list is meant to be God, people, stuff, and if we got the list in the right order, we find we have more time for people.  Jesus gave us the most searching of challenges about getting our priorities right: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.  For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? (The Bible, Matthew 16.24-26)

      Praying that as we enter 2015, you may know the priority of God in your life and so find in Him and His Son Jesus peace, contentment and purpose.

Your servant in the Lord Jesus Christ,

Simon Cox.