June 2008

The Special Times

It was only a year ago, in summer 2007, that we had our holidays in Australia. We did mentioned it shortly after, but it was one of those never to be forgotten holidays. Such holidays only come around once every now and then. We normally have good holidays (though sometimes its despite the weather). I guess it’s because we can be with the children and each other without any of the stresses of normal life. The hardest decision is do we get out of our pyjamas at 10 o’clock or 12 o’clock and do we then have breakfast or brunch....

However this holiday to Australia was different. Apart from all the travelling involved, it was split into 2 parts. Firstly, 2 weeks in a campervan travelling from Brisbane to Cairns along the North Eastern sea-board of Australia. Secondly, two weeks with family and friends in Melbourne – which was great and the real purpose of the visit. But it was this first part that was unforgettable.

It’s not every day that you see platypus in the wild, go scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef, or have whales cavorting a few meters from your boat. It’s not everyday that you build sand castles on pristine beaches with no one in sight, or go swimming in waters infested with crocodiles – err, we actually missed the sign saying ‘Danger Crocodiles – do not swim’ and got out pretty fast when we realised our mistake and felt rather sheepish.. There were many other single moments that added together became one highlight after another. And, if you are wanting to see more then I can bore you to tears with over 800 rather ordinary photos of our Australian trip.

Yes! It really was a wonderful time. The only regret (apart from tempting fate in crocodiles waters) was that 2 weeks wasn’t enough time to do justice to the distance and the beauty of Australia.

There are times in our lives that are real highlights. Sometimes they have been planned for years, weddings, anniversaries, special birthdays, or holidays. At other time the magical moments just seem to happen as if it was random. Of all the Christmas family dinners how many do you really remember in detail for all the right reasons? How many times have you had a Sunday afternoon walk that was remembered long after?

Apart from the birth of a child or your daughters wedding, most of the special events in life happen when we are doing what we often do. Of all the holidays I’ve had – there are two or three that stand out. Of the close on 50 Christmas lunches with all the trimmings, I can think of only a handful that are exceptional. Of the Saturday or Sunday afternoon walks, there are only a few long remembered. But I doubt if they would have occurred at all if I’d only had a handful of holidays, Christmas Dinners, or walks in the country.

Coming to church to worship God is similar. There are highlights, but they don’t happen every week. Normally it is the coming and worshipping together that is good in itself – to praise and sing, to hear and discover. To go out satisfied that we have both worshipped the only God and learned about Him. But once in a while something special happens. Whether it’s expectation, good planning, circumstance or the moving of the Holy Spirit – or all of the above – things combine and we know that God has truly spoken to us and before us. And normally we can’t have guessed before hand which Sunday it will have been.

I wonder if in choosing between the myriad of competing activities we often reduce the chance of a true experience of God’s moving and giving us a memory that will last for many a year, by forgetting to be in the right place and therefore God can’t supply the right time.

June 2008