Magazine articles - November 2019

Dear Friends

 

Imposed or chosen, change is part of living and we fear it. Changecan come knocking on our dooruninvited, presenting us with a change that will disrupt our lives, destroy familiar routines, makeus materially insecure and change our identity and status. Such a change may hold the possibility of a fuller life for our selves and others, but the cost can feel too great, and the chances of something better, remote. Elijah’s invitation to Elisha to leave farming and become a prophet would be such a change. Elisha initially resisted,thought again, then slaughtered his oxen, burnt his plough, and followed Elijah.

 

I recently read thenovel ‘Plainsong’. The story is set in the American high plains, beef ranching country, a place where nothing ever changes. Two brothers, beef farmers, orphaned in their teens, live and work together on their ranch, thinking of little less than their cattle.One evening a knock comes on their door. Old friends are there with arequest. As teachers they are concerned about agirl pupil, who has been thrown out of her home because she is pregnant. They ask,‘Can she make her home with you?Quickly they  leave the brothers to think it through.Once they’ve gone, Harold asks Raymond, “How are you going to change now at this age?”

 

Irrespective of their age, you might be able to relate personally to this story from a time when need has arisen for you to open your home to an elderly relative or grandchildren, or some other change like voluntary redundancy oranewdemanding job. For some of us sickness and disability don’t bother to knock, but force their way into our lives. Such too is the choice of a refugee.

 

I can relate to this story right now. Uninvited, age has come knocking at my door, presenting a change that will disrupt my life, remove much that I have loved and needed, will destroy familiar routines, carry less material security.Relationships, identity and status will be different. Will I resist or embrace or?

 

In the story there is no mention of God or faith, but when I think about the knock on the brothers’ door, I imagine it is Jesusknocking. Like Harold I ask myself, “How are you going to change now at this age?” As I prepare tostep into the unknown I am mindful of the story of Elisha, but also these words from Psalm 71 ring in my ears: ‘In you, O Lord, do I seek refuge… In your righteousness, deliver me and set me free… Be for me a stronghold to which I may ever resort… For you are my hope, O Lord God, my confidence, even from my youth’.

 

With prayers and good wishes

 

James