No Borders.

Isaiah 60:15-22

“Although you have been forsaken and hated,
with no one traveling through,
I will make you the everlasting pride
and the joy of all generations.
You will drink the milk of nations
and be nursed at royal breasts.
Then you will know that I, the Lord, am your Savior,
your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.
Instead of bronze I will bring you gold,
and silver in place of iron.
Instead of wood I will bring you bronze,
and iron in place of stones.
I will make peace your governor
and well-being your ruler.
No longer will violence be heard in your land,
nor ruin or destruction within your borders,
but you will call your walls Salvation
and your gates Praise.
The sun will no more be your light by day,
nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you,
for the Lord will be your everlasting light,
and your God will be your glory.
Your sun will never set again,
and your moon will wane no more;
the Lord will be your everlasting light,
and your days of sorrow will end.
Then all your people will be righteous
and they will possess the land forever.
They are the shoot I have planted,
the work of my hands,
for the display of my splendor.
The least of you will become a thousand,
the smallest a mighty nation.
I am the Lord;
in its time I will do this swiftly.”

I’m so tired of this world and our politics. I’m so tired of borders and divides and governments attacking the poor instead of picking on people their own size. In the UK David Cameron has recently introduced the bedroom tax, meaning that anyone on benefits can’t have a spare bedroom, this even applies to married couples, one of whom has a disability, and they need the spare bed room to store medical equipment or for their partner to possibly sleep in at times. Yet Cameron hasn’t introduced any sort of millionaire’s tax, meaning that while the rich are left to their own devices, the poorest people in the country are having more and more of their freedoms taken away from them.

As it was recently reported in The Telegraph, the gap between the rich and poor in the UK is one of the widest in the developed world. I don’t understand how on earth David Cameron can think his attitude towards the poor is okay, that it’s acceptable to take more and more away from those who have least and keep giving to those who have most. Lowering benefits (and we’re not just talking about job seekers allowance here) will not create a fairer economy and forcing people to move out of their homes is taking away freedoms that everyone should be allowed. At least 660,000 people will be affected by the bedroom tax, a number the housing market simply can’t deal with.

This, my friends, is why the Bible passage quoted above is relevant. I can’t wait for Heaven, when there are or no borders or divides, when those who were treated terribly on earth are given the respect they deserve. I want to see the weak and poor lifted up, I want to see them next to their Saviour, who helped them to carry on even when politicians tried to beat them down. I’m tired of “first world problems” and self-entitled people complaining about minor issues, I want those who are truly broken to be pieced back together. I want wars and famine to end, I want everyone to have enough and no more. I want greed and hatred and selfishness to end, I want the wonder of God light up our skies every day and for everyone to continually be singing His praises because He is our King and He will reign for eternity.

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I Love Books.

I have just finished reading The Hobbit.

I found myself smiling as I read the last line, knowing I had just finished reading one of the greatest stories ever written.

I loved books growing up, I loved the ability to escape into different worlds and into the lives of so many different people but, as I got further into my teenage years I stopped caring about books so much. It wasn’t until my final semester of university that I realised how much I needed stories back in my life. When I told some of my friends I had never seen the Lord of the Rings films they decided we needed to get together and watch them and this, in turn, made me want to read the books. So far I’ve read the first two, taken a break to read The Hobbit, and will get back to The Return of the King as soon as possible.

As I put The Hobbit back in my bookcase tonight I found myself marvelling at the concept of what a novel is. At first glance it’s nothing more than some pages full of words bound together but, really and truly, novels hold whole worlds of wonder and beauty, ready to be explored by intrepid readers. We, alongside Bilbo Baggins (The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings), Frodo Baggins (Lord of the Rings), the Pevensie children (The Chronicles of Narnia), Albert Narracott (War Horse), Harry Potter, Ishmael (Moby Dick), Lemuel Gulliver (Gulliver’s Travels), Alice (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland) and so many more, adventure into uncharted lands, places known and unknown to the average reader, and allow our minds to imagine places greater than any film or television programme could ever create.

Books aren’t only a wonderful mode of escapism, but they remind us that we’re not alone in our hopes that there is more to this world than we have already experienced, they remind us that adventure is real and that it doesn’t just belong to fictional characters. Books inspire us to be the people we’ve always dreamed of being and show us how we can do that.

If it wasn’t for books and the arts in general we might forget how beautiful this world can be, and how truly wonderful the human race is. My favourite authors at the minute are most definitely J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis; probably one of the best literary pairings of the twentieth century, if you ask me. What I love most about their work in Narnia and The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings are the Biblical metaphors. Check out this extract from the end of The Hobbit:

        “Then the old prophecies of the old songs have turned out to be true, after a fashion!” said Bilbo.
        “Of course!” said Gandalf. “And why should they not prove true? Surely you don’t disbelieve the prophecies, because you had a hand in bringing them about yourself? You don’t really suppose, do you, that all your adventure and escapes were managed by mere luck, just for your sole benefit? You are a very fine person, Mr. Baggins, and I am very fond of you; but you are only quite a little fellow in a wide world after all!”
“Thank goodness!” said Bilbo laughing, and handed him the tobacco jar.

I mostly loved this because it reminds me that I’m part of God’s bigger plan for the world. A lot of the time I forget that I’m not alone in this world, that there are millions of Christians alive today who are working towards God’s Kingdom. I forget that, in being a part of the Body of Christ, I am living alongside all of these people. I forget that Jesus did is, first and foremost, the most important part of everything and, just like Mr. Baggins, I am glad to know that if I make a few mistakes the world isn’t going to fall apart.

There is so much beauty to be found in books, whether you believe in God or not, and I encourage you to pick one up today and start reading. I promise you’ll never regret it.

“The best way out is through.”

I talk a lot about life since graduation at the minute because that is my life. In my mind I’m still a student at the University of Stirling and I think that will be how I feel for a long time. But as much as I miss university I still think I have grown tremendously since I graduated. Never mind all the things I’ve actively done, like finding a job and learning to drive, I have grown as a person more this year than I did in my four years at university. I have learnt the importance of endurance, of how I need to be trusted with the little things before I can do the big things. I’ve learnt more about society as a whole than I ever knew before, simply because I have lived within it, rather than making assumptions based on things I’ve learnt from textbooks.

I have discovered that Jesus is truly my best friend and that throughout everything, all the tough times, He has always been at my side, even when it felt like He wasn’t. Friends are there when I need them, they’re around and I can call them or go for coffee with them, but it’s not the same. My friendship with Jesus has been the only constant thing in my life, He is the only one in whom I’ve been able to put my full trust.

Below I’ve posted some quotes that have been relevant to my life since graduating, things that have truly meant something to me.

 

Robert Frost – “The best way out is always through.”

Katy Perry – I wish I knew then,
What I know now,
Wouldn’t dive in,
Wouldn’t bow down,
Gravity hurts,
You made it so sweet,
‘Til I woke up on,
On the concrete.”

Donald Miller – “It is always the simple things that change our lives. And these things never happen when you are looking for them to happen. Life will reveal answers at the place life wishes to do so. You feel like running, but life is on a stroll. This is how God does things.”

Owl City – “And you’ll find there’ll be mornings
When the ashes and embers are cold,
But you’ll fight with a passion
And you’ll never stop ’cause you know.
Yeah you know, it gets better,
And your story is yet to be told,
Every push, every shove, every war, every love,
Yeah, the coals are beginning to glow.”

Elizabethtown – “Sadness is easier because it’s surrender. I say, make time to dance alone with one hand waving free.”

Mother Teresa – “God does not call us to be successful, but God calls us to be faithful.”

Narnia: Prince Caspian (book)  “Aslan,” said Lucy, “you’re bigger.” “That is because you are older, little one,” answered he. “Not because you are?” “I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”
Narnia: Prince Caspian (film) – Lucy: “I wish I were braver.
Aslan: “If you were any braver you would be a lioness.”

I love the Robert Frost quote because it kind of says it all, really. I was never going to get out of this year, I was never going to magically escape from it all, so the best way to get out of it was to get through it, and to learn and grow from it.

I also especially adore the last quote from Narnia because I believe I have been brave this year; braver than I’ve ever had to be. I’ve spent a lot of time wondering if there was more I should have done, if I should have been braver, but I think life has been tough without me adding anything else to it. The lack of people in my life has been a real hurdle but, as I said at the start, Jesus has been by my side the whole time.

I’ll let the rest of the quotes speak for themselves.

I hope that many of my fellow 20-somethings will take something from this post, that you will be encouraged and realise how much good there has been in your life since you graduated, even if it doesn’t feel like that. Some days I feel like I’m still lost, like I don’t know where on earth my life is going, but what I do know is that, no matter what, Jesus is always by my side leading the way, so it doesn’t matter if I don’t know where I’m going.