Do other people see us in the same way as we see ourselves? Do we even have a correct appreciation of how we see ourselves? Sometimes we get a glimpse of reality of how we are, and we may not like what we see! I had one such moment a few weeks ago. Our granddaughter had come to visit and she had brought her parents along too. We had taken a walk together as a family, and as you do at the age of two, we ended up in the play park in the Manor gardens. She played on the swings, she slid down the slides, even though they were still wet after a shower of rain, nothing seemed to stop her. In my own mind I was there right with her remembering the times when we had taken her dad to the park, and I had followed him around thinking I could do that myself if I wanted too. Then came the call from the seesaw, “granddad”. The implication was obvious I was being invited to join her. It seemed smaller than the ones I remember in the past, and I squeezed myself on the opposite end to provide the counterbalance and gently propelled her up and down. She loved it.

The next day I had the reality check. My phone made that sound that it does when it wants me to look at something. It was a few pictures of the visit the previous day. I began to look through them with anticipation. The swing, the slide and then the seesaw. There she was on one end, but who was on the other? For a brief second I thought it was my father! Until it dawned on me that I had become older and hunched over trying to fit onto the end of seesaw, it was me, looking remarkably like my father, when he was ninety!

Of course we all have that feeling that we are much younger than we really are, and that we can still do whatever we like, but perhaps not today. It is only on rare occasions that we face the fact that we look much older than we think we are and we cannot do what we used to do anymore. My mind was drawn back to when I was in my 36th year. I remember it well, thinking that I was 35 years old, the bible allocates man ‘three score years and ten’, I was possibly halfway through my life and what had I done for God in that time? Whatever I thought of never seemed enough so I made a decision to be more involved in ‘church’. It has taken me another twenty plus years to find out that it is who we are and not what we do that God is interested in. My granddaughter does not see me as someone who takes her to the park, or to the beach because her parents do that for her as well, she just sees me as grandad. For half of her life we have been images on her dad’s phone, but we are now able to visit again which is so much better. To meet face to face, as one day we will meet with our Heavenly Father.

As time passes so rapidly, as one gets older, that day is getting closer. Opportunities are therefore inevitably decreasing in number. Let’s remember that while the saying ‘actions speak louder than words’ is so true, may that not hinder us from speaking out the gospel when we have the opportunity. Every day we live is one less left. May we say with Saint Paul in Colossians 4: 5-6 (CEV) When you are with unbelievers, always make good use of the time. Be pleasant and hold their interest when you speak the message. Choose your words carefully and be ready to give answers to anyone who asks questions.

As we approach a milestone in the life of our church, and Central Hall / Dawlish Christian Fellowship is changed to Hope Church the names may change, the way we seek to invite others into God’s Kingdom may change, but the message stays the same. The creator of our universe wants us to enter into a relationship with him. He loved us so much that he sent Jesus to this earth to make a relationship possible. We are uniquely created to desire that relationship which is the only way to personal fulfilment. People throughout the ages have sought pleasure in many different ways but all have failed to find lasting happiness and joy, except for when we meet Jesus and seek to be more like him.

There may be truth in the fact we often grow up to be like our parents. May we put all our efforts into mission and so to increase the multitude of people who God is changing day by day to be more like Jesus.
As Paul said previously in Colossians 1: 9-11 (CEV) We have not stopped praying for you since the first day we heard about you. In fact, we always pray that God will show you everything he wants you to do and that you may have all the wisdom and understanding that his Spirit gives. Then you will live a life that honours the Lord, and you will always please him by doing good deeds. You will come to know God even better. His glorious power will make you patient and strong enough to endure anything, and you will be truly happy.