zooom

So, dear Bloggists, I have been away for a week with Sally (the wonderful lady to whom I am married) in the Lake District. That is why this page has been silent for the past week – sorry. We had a fantastic time. We walked over hills and down valleys and around lakes. We saw some astonishingly beautiful scenery. We ate some delicious meals. We spent quality time with one another.

I also took some photos. We have recently acquired a new camera as our old one broke and we have some significant family events coming up. It’s what is known as a ‘Bridge camera’ – halfway between a point and shoot compact camera and a complex Single Lens Reflex camera. It has rather a long zoom on it, though. In fact a combination of optical and digital zoom means that it has 84x zoom on it. I didn’t really know what that looked like until I took the photographs below.

We had stopped for a break on a walk around Derwent Water and looked across at Catbells. It was a beautiful view so I decided to take a photograph, resting the camera on a post that was part of the landing stage on which we were sitting in order to keep it stable. This is the view that we had.IMG_0060

After I had taken the photo I look across again and I thought I could just about make out some tiny shapes on the skyline that might be people so I decided to see if I could zoom in on them with the camera. then zoomed in… as far as the zoom would go. This is what I saw!

IMG_0059

I was astonished at the level of detail that was achieved from the camera. It was exactly the same view as the first image, I had not moved the camera at all. But instead of mountains and trees and lake and landing stage, there were visibly discernible people and dogs walking across the top of Catbells.

Reflecting on these two images has led me to reflect again on Psalm 8:

Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

  You have set your glory
    in the heavens.
Through the praise of children and infants
    you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
    to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    human beings that you care for them?

You have made them a little lower than the angels
    and crowned them with glory and honour.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
    you put everything under their feet:
all flocks and herds,
    and the animals of the wild,
the birds in the sky,
    and the fish in the sea,
    all that swim the paths of the seas.

Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

It’s easy to get sucked in by our own ego and think that we are bigger and more important than we are. At times like that perhaps we need to look at the zoomed out picture and realise that we are specks on the horizon.

It’s also easy to believe our own lack of self-worth and think that we are insignificant and irrelevant. At times like that perhaps we need to look at the zoomed in picture and realise that we are significant individuals who are worth noticing.

It’s important for us to see people the same way. It’s important to understand that those who intimidate us occupy about the same amount of space that we do on this planet. It’s important for us to understand that some people have a much lower opinion of themselves than we do. How does that understanding change the way that we respond to them?

And then perhaps we need to realise that God sees us from both perspectives. He sees the whole big picture of life, the Universe and everything, and he sees the details of each person: our needs, our concerns, our joys and our sadness. And both views matter to him intensely. Knowing that he sees the big picture can be reassuring when we can’t. Knowing that he sees the individual issues and is interesting can be reassuring when we can’t see a way ahead. That knowledge is possible if we look with the eyes of faith.

Be blessed, be a blessing

the antidote

Yesterday’s bloggage title may have reaffirmed a sense of low self-esteem for some of you, but I hope that you carried on and read the affirmation at the end of it.

ScienceToday I want to offer an antidote to ‘we’re not worth it’ attitudes if you missed the second half or didn’t feel worthy of the affirmation…

Have you ever made, drawn, designed, created, invented, built or enhanced anything? It could be a cake or a castle, an airfix model or a painting, a well-received piece of work or a tidy bedroom. Anything.

How did you feel at the end of it? Remember that sense of pride, accomplishment, satisfaction?

When God looks at you, his beloved one, his created one, he has that same sensation. He is proud of who you are (despite your imperfections). He is glad he imagined you into being. He is happy that you are growing, learning, improving, living…

He doesn’t make mistakes. And he doesn’t make prototypes. You are the one and only you.

With God’s help you can be the best ‘you’ imaginable. You can be more than you can imagine if you open yourself up to his Spirit. Empowered by God’s Spirit you can live life in all its fullness and in doing so you can bless, encourage, inspire and support others. as they seek to be the best ‘them’ they can be.

God’s grace is such that he even takes our mistakes and can transform them, or use them, or help us to learn and grow from them.

To paraphrase Numbers 6:23 from the Bible:

May you experience God’s blessing and that he is holding you. May you know his smile upon you and his grace in all your circumstances. May you sense him looking fondly at you and relax in his arms.

Be blessed, be a blessing

You are not a mistake.

worm provision

One of my favourite verses in the whole Bible is Jonah 4:7 which includes the immortal words “… God provided a worm…”

That is just awesome. It is the provision part of that phrase, coupled with the bizarre nature of what was provided that brings a smile to my face every time. And when you consider the context, it’s even better.

Picture by Sally Lear (originally on Overhead Projector Slide, hence the 'shine')
Picture by Sally Lear (originally on Overhead Projector Slide, hence the ‘shine’)

Jonah (he of fish-food fame) had finally obeyed God and told the people of Nineveh that God was mightily displeased with them and that they should expect the full ‘wrath of God’ experience in 40 days’ time. Having delivered his message had Jonah left the city and went a safe distance away to sit and watch the fireworks.

Jonah became considerably disgruntled when God saw the people of Nineveh respond in humility and seek his forgiveness, and God had forgiven them and cancelled the fire and brimstone from heaven. He ranted at God, “I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.”

Isn’t that incredible, he ranted at God for being compassionate and forgiving. They were not getting what they deserved, it was making him look foolish, it was not fair.

So God made a leafy plant grow up to provide Jonah with some shade while he sulked. Jonah was happy with that. It is at this moment that God provided a worm. The worm ate the roots of the plant and Jonah was seriously dischuffed once again, launching into another rant at God about the plant: “I’m so angry [about the plant] I wish I were dead.”

Then the gentle word of God offered his perspective: if Jonah was bothered about the plant, shouldn’t God be much more bothered about the people?

What’s your plant? What details are bothering you at the moment? If you are bothered about them, remember that God is bothered about people in the big picture too – about people in peril, people in poverty, people in powerless situations. What might he want you to do to help them?

Be blessed, be a blessing