|I spent a few days recently returning to the delights of South East Devon ...
I spent a few days recently returning to the delights of South East Devon, particularly enjoying the beauty of the English countryside as summer drifts gently into autumn - berry-filled bushes, butterflies enjoying the last of the summer warmth, fields harvested but not yet ploughed in, and a hint of the wonderful yellows, browns and oranges soon to arrive in full measure.
On one of our walks, it felt as if our day was rapidly turning into the Day of the Notice! Although the pointers to footpaths and places were to be expected, there were other less common but not that unusual ones like those warning of a bull in a field - thankfully nowhere to be seen.
But there were also some rather more surprising ones. At one stage we were warned about basking adders, which seemed slightly strange in a shaded piece of woodland when they love the heat of the sun. But the most bizarre one was about pine cones. My first reaction was that it’s yet another example of health and safety gone mad. It’s the great outdoors, and there are trees. And sometimes things fall off them - leaves, twigs, acorns, conkers … and even pine cones.
But then I looked up. These ones weren’t the dainty, not-much-bigger-than-a-conker ones. Neither were they the very light, open ones. They were large, dense and heavy, the sort that would make a sizeable dent in a car roof, and for a poor, unsuspecting passer-by it would be a bit like having a small rock dropped on your head!
The Bible is a wonderful book. It shows us what God is like. It tells us the great, Good News that we can know Him and enjoy Him through what Jesus did for us on the Cross. It reminds us that God can be real for us moment by moment because His Holy Spirit lives and works in us. But it also has its Take Note moments. The Ten Commandments aren’t just a set of dry rules written on tablets of stones centuries ago but timeless, life-giving principles that help us relate to God and others in a way that’s the very best for us and that respects honours other people. Jesus made it even simpler for us by reducing them to just two - love God wholeheartedly and love others as yourself.
In our information-driven age, it often seems that the more knowledge we have, the less wisdom we possess. We become increasingly self-confident and assertive, seeing no need, or forgetting the need, to be mindful of God or others in what we do. But the Bible has some stern words - anyone who says there’s no God is a fool, those who are proud need to watch out for the danger of falling, God will call us to account for how we live.
God knows us. God made us. So the way He wants us to live is bound to be the very best for us and others. And the Bible is stacked full of practical, day to day, down to earth wisdom and guidance to help us be fruitful and fulfilled, and live in a way that honours Him. The Psalmist spoke of God’s word being a lamp to our feet and a light to our paths. And the Bible as a whole tells us how to relate to other people, what attitudes to cultivate, how to set priorities, how to use the material wealth He’s blessed us with. And so, so much more … It’s wisdom isn’t there to restrict us but to give us freedom, to allow us to fly, to help us discover the life in all its fullness that Jesus promised.
We reached the end of a brilliant walk tired but unscathed - and with a new respect for pine cones!
Keith Nurse (7 October 2017)
| || |