From Nancy Jean Whitehead...

Dear Friends
This has been quite a week. After incredibly hot weather for a few days we got caught up in the tail end of Cyclone Gita. We were lucky! Apart from the heavy rain there was very little impact on us. It is quite a change to not be in the forefront of a natural disaster. Long may it last.

However, a part of our country that doesn’t often feature in the news has been badly hit. I have friends in Motueka and they were waiting very anxiously for the high tide in the early hours of this morning. They had already had torrential rain for almost 24 hours and the wind was getting stronger. Fortunately they do not live close to the sea but it was still an anxious time. Even worse hit were the people of Riwaka – a place I had never heard of until a few months ago – and of course Takaka and Golden Bay. Thank goodness for our Armed Forces who are already coming in by helicopter to provide welfare assistance as well as delivering much needed medical supplies.

We are used to being in control of our lives. We get on with our lives with the security of knowing the shops will be open, the power is on, the water is safe and apart from the occasional idiot, the roads are reasonably safe. Yet, as we have learned recently, none of this can be taken for granted. Nature has a way of upsetting our complacency and security. We need to be prepared for emergencies and to be able to be self-sufficient for several days and then get on with living.

Our faith journey is very similar. We can go on for years without any doubts or worries enjoying our church life and getting on with our own lives. However, every so often something will happen that can challenge our long-held beliefs. It is then that we begin to question the “truths” that we have learned from childhood and also question our sometimes subconscious belief that God is like a puppeteer twitching the strings and controlling every aspect of our lives. Of course we need to depend on God and our relationship with Christ Jesus, but we were also given the capacity to think and reason for ourselves. We have the ability to make choices. We can choose to shut ourselves away from the world and from the everyday ups and downs of life, or we can choose to live life to the full taking calculated risks and trusting in God who is always with us whether we know it or not.

These next few weeks of Lent are an opportunity for us to think about our faith and what is important and what we can discard. It is a time to prepare for the horror of the Crucifixion and the glorious celebration of Easter Day. As the old song says “you can’t have one without the other.”

May God be with you in your Lenten journey.

Nancy Jean