Newsletter 18 December 2020: Episode 74

“A narrow escape”

It was Wednesday morning. I was part-way through my prayer walk in the woods. I heard a noise above me in the canopy. A small branch fell a few yards away. I moved on a little nervously. Suddenly, an almighty “Crack!” made me jump, and I sprinted off the path into the undergrowth. Turning round I saw the trunk of a tree laid across the path where I had walked seconds earlier. If I had not moved, it would have flattened me. Serious injury or death were the only possible outcomes.

I stood still for a few moments, thanking Good for preservation. The remainder of my prayer time that day was more focused than up to that point. I’ve had a few brushes with death in my life. But this was the first for a long time. I was pretty shaken up, as you might imagine. And then I asked myself whether this was a coincidence or not.

I cannot say for sure whether God allowed this to happen to wake me up to something. Or, whether it’s one of those things that occurs in life and God protected me. However, two things did come to mind as I finished my prayer walk.

  1. I have an enemy. There’s no point in praying “deliver us from evil” unless it exists and has evil intent. The Apostle Peter put it well when he said, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8 NIV11) Whilst it is true that Christ, through the cross, has defeated all principalities and powers, nonetheless, whilst we are this side of his return those principalities and powers are still at work. Perhaps part of the lesson for me is that I do well in prayer to ask God to help me “be alert and of sober mind”.
  2. I have important things to do. The end comes for all of us, but while we are here we all have significant matters to attend to. As I walked away from the fallen tree I reflected on all the things that remain as yet undone. Unfinished articles and books to write, phone calls to make, videos to record, lesson to prepare, fun things to do. And much more. 

It’s almost the end of the year. A time to reflect. For me, especially after this event, a time to make sure my compass is pointing in the right direction. Cutting out the things that do not matter, and investing in the things that do.

You don’t have to have a narrow escape to develop a sober mind. Simply reflecting on the power of God, and the magnificence of his love can help us to refine our schedules, priorities and to do lists. I hope you have a superb Christmas and New Year, but whatever else you do, set a little time aside to reflect on the reality that our time on this earth is limited. Let’s make the most of it.

The week ahead

If you’d like to pray for me I’d be very grateful. Here are some of my plans:

  • Beginning the application process for a Masters in theological education. Please pray for me. I am somewhat form-phobic.
  • A new Tuesday teaching tip class – “How assess your speaking year”
  • The next “What we are reading episode” – a summary of the book, “How to assess your reading year”
  • The new quiet time coaching episode  – “How to assess your devotional life this year”
  • Working on a teaching series for January and February 2021 on the character of Abraham and those connected with him in the Scriptures. I have started recording the devotional podcasts.
  • Finalising the Carol services for the Watford and Thames Valley congregations.
  • Finishing the “UK/Ireland Unity Carol Project” – it’s been great fun. It will be ready for this Sunday.
  • Christmas with some of the family.

God bless, Malcolm