Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Week Twenty-Three - Meet Me at the Corner

      I’ve just finished a book titled Prescription for Anxiety written by Leslie Weatherhead in the 1940s. One of the paragraphs that really struck me was a story about a lay preacher called Hugh Redwood.  As told by Dr. Weatherhead;
     “At one period in his life, Hugh Redwood passed through a difficult time. He had some very hard decisions to make, and wasn't sure what he should do. He asked God for guidance, but as sometimes happens, it seemed that no guidance was given. The heavens were silent. One evening he went to have dinner with some friends before going on to address a large public meeting of several thousand people. When the meal was over his hostess said to him, "Hugh, don't wait around for the small talk; go upstairs to the study. There is a fire burning. Put your feet up and relax for a little while." Redwood was glad of a little peace and quiet, so that is what he did. He found, as promised, that there was a cheery fire in the grate. He sat down on an easy chair and noticed that on the table beside the chair was a Bible. He picked it up and discovered that it was open at Psalm 59. He began to read, and when he came to Verse 10 he found the words, "The God of mercy shall prevent me."’ (Psalm 59:10 (KJV) The God of my mercy shall prevent me: God shall let me see my desire upon mine enemies.)
     The word ‘prevent’ has a different meaning in the King James version than its use in today’s modern language. If we prevent something, we mean that we are stopping something from occurring. In King James times, the word ‘prevent’ meant to ‘go before’. To prevent someone was to go before them.  The ESV reads: My God in his steadfast love will meet me; God will let me look in triumph on my enemies.
Returning to the story about Hugh Redwood; “But somebody else had written another translation in the margin, and it found its way into Hugh Redwood's mind with such power that he never forgot it. The anonymous hand had written, "My God, in His loving kindness, shall meet me at every corner."
     When I visualise corners, I picture the street we used to live on in Leicester. There were rows and rows of red-bricked Victorian terraced houses that were intersected by yet more streets to form a grid pattern. The houses were arranged in squares with the backyards all facing toward each other and the front of the houses facing the road. I used to walk home via a zig-zag route, around various corners until I reached my front door. I could never see around the next corner and I remember whilst pushing the pram having to stop before the corner in case I ran it into someone walking perpendicular to me!
     Corners in life represent changes in our direction. This could be a move from school to University, a new job or relocation to a new town. We worry and stress because we can’t see around the corner. We don’t know what’s coming and we humans naturally react to the unknown with anxiety.
     Most of the corners in my life have led me to wonderful, unexpected and beautiful places – even if at the time they seemed like hesitant steps into the unknown. Newly married, we moved away from friends and family to a new city where we knew nobody. I left behind a good job to study a new profession and our household income halved overnight. This hard decision resulted in some difficult times yet blessings we could never have imagined – including a much-loved child, a wonderful new church family, and opportunities I’d never have dreamed of. God met us at the corner. He was already in Leicester and beyond. His mercy prevented us!
     Some corners in life are not ones we choose but ones that find us - perhaps bereavement, financial loss or a physical or mental illness that requires us to change our lifestyle in a way we never anticipated. We worry because we think our lives should be like an orderly straight line along which we tread, going from one plan to the next. When these plans of ours are interrupted by whatever means our first reaction is to panic. “You see, if the story of our life is like a line drawn on a sheet of paper, then God is not another intersecting line, but the page on which the line is drawn! He encompasses us at every point. There is no place at which His loving action does not touch our life. Dame Julian of Norwich expressed it perfectly when she wrote, "We are all in Him enclosed." That is, we are wrapped round by goodness and love. Not only forgiven for what is past and strengthened in the present, but drawn into a future that is filled with divine mercy” (Dr. Maurice Boyd)
We can’t see around the corners in our lives. The future seems filled with uncertainties. But God is already there. When we look to the future, we can be certain that we look to a place where God already dwells. Whatever lies beyond the corner can be faced because God has already been there and will travel with us.
   So, friend, fret not about the corners in life. God will meet you there. He is already there. We are ‘all in Him enclosed’. What a beautiful thought.

I sought the Lord, and afterward I knew
He moved my soul to seek Him, seeking me;
It was not I that found, O Saviour true--
No, I was found of Thee.
I find, I walk, I love, but O the whole
Of Love is but my answer, Lord, to Thee;
For Thou wast long beforehand with my soul,
 Always Thou lovedst me.

Dr. R Owen.

Prescription for Anxiety by Dr. Leslie Weatherhead
Prevenient Grace by Dr. Maurice Boyd

1 comment:

  1. As i am at presant going around a corner in my life i find the above very comforting. I know God is always with me but it is good to be reminded n reassured. Thank you.