I spent a few days over Christmas hauled away in a large house on the top of the North Yorkshire Moors celebrating a family birthday. A lot of time was spent sitting around the roaring fire, playing games and sharing stories.
Our departure was delayed by heavy snow and on one of the nights, our discussions turned to childhood memories and all the things that we got up to when we were kids. I couldn’t possibly share the secrets of the Moorby family but I told some of my own stories that night. Like the time that I took a pair of nail scissors to the Venetian blinds because I thought my mum had been on the phone far too long and I wanted her attention. Or the time when my brother pulled his toy car backwards along the floor and then let it run in my sister’s hair leading to an unexpected haircut. Stories were shared of times when we had been in trouble and times when we had been less than kind to our siblings.
For He is our childhood’s pattern,
Day by day, like us He grew;
He was little, weak and helpless,
Tears and smiles like us he knew,
And he feeleth for our sadness,
And he shareth in our gladness.
There are other moments of my childhood that I find tricky to recall. I have suffered painfully embarrassing moments where I have forgotten the names of people that I apparently spent lots of time with as a child and have not been able to remember events that others assure me I was part of. My “childhood’s pattern” is one that has continued into my adult life. It’s one of striving to complete the task in front of me, solve the problem that needs to be solved and then move on to the next thing, taking little time to reflect on or celebrate anything that has been achieved. I’ve never been very good at being “in the moment” as I’ve always been too busy focussing on what the next moment is going to be!
At the end of our stay, it took quite a lot of effort to dig the car out of the snow and successfully make our way along the windy lane that led up to the house. Once we reached the main road Lyndon, who was travelling home separately, got out of the car and Pete and I got in. A family member, who shall remain nameless, had told us that we needed to turn left at the t-junction. As we started to drive along the top of the North Yorkshire Moors towards Castleton, it became apparent that we were driving in the wrong direction and, more worryingly, that the fuel gauge was on zero. Conditions were icy and at times it felt like we were in the middle of nowhere. Unsure whether we would make it to the next village, I gripped the steering wheel, stared at the road ahead and just kept going.
I looked away from the road for a moment in Peter's direction and could see miles and miles of beautiful, snow-covered hills. In that moment, I forced myself to focus on the beauty that surrounded me, rather than the icy path that lay directly ahead.
2017 has felt very much like that car journey! It’s been a year of descending mist and uncertainty about where the road was heading. It’s also been a year where God has tried to shift my focus and has encouraged me to see Him in the middle of the icy conditions even when I feel like I'm running on empty!
Just in case you ever need to know, there is no petrol station at Castleton and we drove another 9 stressful miles to Guisborough, willing the car to keep going. Hoping for a clear run home, I was so relieved when the tank was full and we were able to continue on our journey. Little did I know that there was still endless traffic, a potential speeding ticket and buckets of rain to deal with.
I don’t know what 2018 has in store for the Moorby household or soulwithaview. I hope the journey is a little less bumpy than 2017 but if it isn’t then we’ll be ok. At Christmas, or any other time of the year, I know that “God is with us.” He’s been with us throughout all the events of 2017, shedding tears with us in the hard times and sharing in our happiness when things have gone well.
2017 has been a year of shifting my “childhood’s pattern”, learning to see the wider perspective and noticing God in every mile of the journey. In 2018 I aim to live out the “childhood pattern” of Jesus, taking time to connect with my Heavenly Father and continuing to focus my attention on the beauty around me.
Happy New Year everyone!