Here's a sound bite from the podcast AUDIO
Here's the Studio Cam version which is VIDEO
It is July, and people's thoughts all over the UK turn to holidays.
Certainly, my annual leave is due and this will be the last Thought for the Day for a while. There's only me here to do these things, and human beings are built such that they need a break!
It is time to 'go away'
Now, of course, it's become traditional ... more than that ... expected, that when holiday time comes around we should 'go away'.
But that isn't always possible for all of us. Let's face it, given the rising rate of infection with the Delta variant in the UK, and as things stand ... what country on earth is willing to have us?!
We're looking pretty limited as to how FAR we go when we're 'going away'.
In fact, it's actually looking worse, even, than that. Oh yes, UK holiday destinations are doing roaring trade at the moment, but as they do so, their covid rates are rapidly rising. Around a quarter of positive tests in the last week in our Health Board area being on people who are resident outside the area.
Our hospital resources in rural areas have been proportionately under-funded for a LONG time, and we aren't given the resources to cope with things like this ... in fact at the outset our medical assets to deal with the COVID crisis got shipped to London.
So against this sort of background, how long will it be until local resistance at crowded UK tourist destinations starts to boil over?
It seems like time to re-evaluate what we do with our 'down-time'.
My dream 'break'
Beach holidays haven't appealed to me for decades.
No ... I like to immerse myself in different cultures amongst different people.
I'd love to be spending my leave in a Western Balkans city that has a vibrant cafe culture seeing family and people I know.
I'd really love to.
The thing is, that country (very wisely) won't have us.
What's the new formula for 'time off'?
I've been reflecting on that for a while now, and I've tentatively come up with this:
- a renewing place to be
- with the pressure off
- spending time with
- people who inspire me
- whose company is a joy
- learning more about them and about myself by interacting together
But there still remains one vital, crucial element: are these people able and happy to receive us ... in short, are we welcome to come?
Are we welcome to come?
The warmth of the Royal Invitation Havergal explores is a matter that exercises the mind of the author of Hebrews, too.
It comes up in our Verse for the Day today, which unfolds the reason that Christiands can come FREELY into the presence of God
Verse for the Day
This is the summary of a passage in that letter which contrasts the new situation in Christ for His followers with the old situation in the Old Testament ... where sinful people could not safely enter the presence of the Holy God at the Temple because of the toxicity sin brought into the relationship.
That passage unpacks the lengths to which God has gone to deal with the troublesome 'toxin' at significant cost to Himself, in spite of all that our sin deserved, so that as a sympathetic host He might invite us safely into His company, His presence and His fellowship.
There are people you sometime meet whose presence in some way refreshes, restores and inspires you.
SOMETIMES you can get access to their presence, and when you can that is something really precious.
The Bible's God is that person par excellence ... His company refreshes and restores the grace-brought soul.
And because of all Jesus has done (so says Hebrews 4) we can approach the throne of His grace with every confidence, where we find mercy, grace and help at the times we need to.
In Psalm 16 David uncovers the false foundations of our frustrations with this COVID year's limited holiday options when he writes:
“You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”
The refreshment the we're looking for at holiday time doesn't reside in Benidorm ... or even the Balkans ... after all!
It lies in the presence of the eternal God Who is actually to be found EVERYWHERE ... and to Whom all who trust in Him may confidently come.
(I'm already looking forward to coming back at the end of them!)