Brendan and I moved house recently to be near four of our children and their families. The whole downsizing thing was worse than expected. Today I tried to sort out some boxes and albums of photographs. There were loads of them. Brendan always took photographs of his big family.
The pictures sent me on an intense emotional rollercoaster ride which lasted all day. It was as if a big hand reached deep inside my heart and stirred up so many memories and emotions of people I loved, living and dead. Photos of family events, holidays, birthdays, weddings, graduations, football successes, new grandchildren, new towns, foreign travel and ministry adventures were all lying hidden and forgotten in these old boxes and albums.
I saw my fourteen children blooming and sprouting from baby, teenager, adult, some into marriage and parenthood. I wondered how Brendan and I reared fourteen children. Praise God who daily renewed our strength. When my children were young I was happy with them tucked up in bed at eight o clock at night. I wasn’t really prepared for a house full of teenage girls and boys.
The photos recorded joy, beauty, feasting, play, rest, exploring, walking, swimming and friendship. Each decade shows development, children at primary school, grammar school, university, work, marriages and grandchildren.
What was clear to me is that God has changed every one of us. For myself, as I walked down through life, I had to die to what I personally wanted to allow more of His kingdom in my life. I could see a change in my appearance from year to year. God so often lifted burdens that were too heavy to carry. I will continue to be charged into the likeness of Christ. As someone said, God hasn’t finished with me yet.
My choices today will steer my life for the next ten years. Will it steer me into life and health or will I end up in trouble because wrong choices? Even if I make bad choices God in his kindness will not let me continue in my mistaken ways. He gives us a way of escape and a chance to start afresh because of His love. Like a Father who watches over his children so God is watching over us. He knows our frame and He knows the pitfalls. I am being changed from one degree of Glory to another.
As I rummaged through the photos I was reminded of a short humorous poem Brendan once wrote.
These are the good old days we’ll all remember well.
Turned into days of heaven, from these bad days of hell.
It is good to remember the good times.