Pilgrim Paths Word on the Week 6th January 2024.
This week some of our younger members of the family enjoyed the rigours of a few days in a cottage in Donegal with time to explore the beauties of that County in Winter. Their pouring over maps on their return reminded me of a time when the hills held a great attraction for me.
They were the Cairngorms. I had returned from 2 years of National Service (compulsory military training in the UK) and joined the Etchachan Club – a rock climbing group based in Aberdeen. Apart from the challenge of the climb, the beauty of Nature made an indelible impression on me.
The wonders of Nature are intended to be a signpost pointing to our Creator God (Romans 1 verse 20). At that time, I think I would have made a good Pantheist!
Marriage to a wonderful wife, Betty, came and around that time I entered my ‘religious phase’. This included a conversion to Christ experience. The Billy Graham Crusades were taking place and I had the opportunity to look at my life from a Godward perspective.
The most tangible effect of all this was to read the Bible, something which Betty had done regularly. There did not seem to be much difference to my life-style which I tried to clean up only to fail miserably. As the author, Paul David Tripp put it, “The thought that any fallen human being would be able to perform his or her way into acceptance with God has to be the most insane of delusions.”
Eventually Christianity broke through when I became aware that Jesus in dying on the cross for me not only took away my sin but gave me his righteousness (2 Corinthians 5 verse 21).
It is so hard to believe this as the whole world order is set against the idea of a loving God who cares enough for his people to die for them. And then to live for them in the resurrection and heavenly session equipping each one for the role He has created for them (Isaiah 30 verse 21).
Within the security of the ‘righteousness of Christ’ we are to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passion and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives by God’s grace (Titus 2 verse 11/12).
As the Psalmist says, “Shall I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 121 verses 1 and 2).