There is a bright colourful light from the sunset and there is also a dark cloud enveloping this light. There is a feeling in the air like there will be a storm and the rain and wind have started and is starting to take away the memory of the warm sun earlier today. Light and dark, life and death are in a constant struggle and sometimes life seems so unfair that I should continue and others should stop.
WHEN YOU PASS THROUGH THE WATERS, I WILL BE WITH YOU; AND THROUGH THE RIVERS, THEY SHALL NOT OVERWHELM YOU; WHEN YOU WALK THROUGH FIRE YOU SHALL NOT BE BURNED, AND THE FLAME SHALL NOT CONSUME YOU.
Yesterday I had travelled back from Runcorn very late and so was too tired to write and reflect with any lengthy topic. But the sunset over the Mersey river seemed to just be there in perfect timing and it lasted for almost two minutes before the colour died and it went dark.
The Runcorn and Widnes bridge, which affectionately the children call Nana’s bridge, is a passage of hope. It allows people to visit relatives and friends without the lengthy journey. They are at present building a new bridge and will make both toll bridges. I do hope that toll doesn’t stop friendships from flourishing over the river Mersey. I remember cycling across this bridge when I was at the first year of secondary school to visit a friend Martin, and later after we had lost contact and reconnected I travelled across the bridge to meet and share precious time exploring and getting up to usual lads adventures.
Friendships are developed over years and even my Mother and Father had met because this bridge was there to travel over, my father living in Widnes and my mother in Frodsham. My father used to cycle to Frodsham to meet my mum and their relationship developed, I’m not sure how they met. Later they moved to a house more in the middle in Runcorn so that my father could be close to his works in ICI. Later he got diagnosed with MS which affected his legs but he and my mother were always ready to run their children across the bridge to what ever activity we had planned. Performing with many bands and drum corps this took up much time and probably took my mother away from church on a Sunday to drive me to these rehearsals. Parents are always there to sacrifice their lives for their children. Just like Jesus sacrificed his life for us his adopted children of God. But your faith is not dependant on how many times you have attended church, but on your faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.
There is something special I feel with rivers. They feel and look like life itself. Rivers feature in the bible often and Jesus is also referred to as the living waters.
37 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”
Friends have been made through rivers but also friends have been lost through not treating the river with respect.
I previously mentioned Yordas cave were I nearly lost my life with my friend Martin as the river flooded and pushed us closer to the sump. I miraculously managed to get a footing and pulled Martin back to the land, where we waited for the water to calm down.
In 1993 I was once caving with a small group of five of us in valley entrance to valley exit in Kingsdale in Yorkshire, and we were followed down by a group ten minutes after us. We had descended a couple of pitches underground and heard a flood pulse, the water increased in depth and became furious and deafening. I managed to abseil down a drop and as I did I recited the 23rd Psalm.
Psalm 23:4 “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”
A hundred or so feet down I got blasted onto a ledge by the force and I managed to hold the rope to lead the rest of the team down. We scaled the river and managed to escape with our lives.
The group that followed us didn’t fare that well as one caver drowned but we only found this out much later. Michael Jones was washed into Kingsdale master sump – we had been talking and joking with him only moments before we entered the cave on the road below. This incident started my journey to find my faith.
I still feel blessed that I was spared as getting through that cave was a miracle. There is no other way to describe it with the force of that water. Looking back I can definitely say the Lord was sparing us for another day. Towards the end of my interest in active sport caving I lost another friend as Julian Carrol died of hyperthermia after battling through the underwater river in Ireby Fell Cavern in February 2001.
When you lose friends you realise that your life is ever so fragile. I was on many occasions so close to joining the fatalities of cavers and climbers on various days. We later placed a cairn up on Ireby fell to point cavers back down to the lane where they usually parked, and just outside the cave you will find an etched stone with Julians name on it.
But moving forward to the day I found Jesus, I am aware that he left a friend with me. This friend is the Holy Spirit. It is such an overwhelming feeling that God would leave his Spirit with each of us to intercede for our own good. God obviously knows the bigger picture, he knows what will come and he allows you to perhaps see a glimpse of a little way ahead but with not too much detail. Jesus leaves the Spirit with us. He is the Holy fire that does not burn you up but gives you strength, particularly on the days when you think you can’t carry on – He carries you.
Lord I pray tonight for your forgiveness for the days I have done no work for you, or I have mocked you in front of others,
for when I laughed it off as luck when you saved my life from death.
Thank you lord for saving my life when you held the wall back and saved me from a crushing painful death,
when you plucked me out of the furious river and placed me on a ledge to rest, when you gave me a footing to help a friend, when the earth caught me and stopped my descent down a 200ft shaft
and when you held the ceiling up so that I could crawl through the bowls of the earth to breath once again.
Dear Lord thank you.
Help me never to rest until I have done everything you have tasked for me to do.
Though I know I can never repay the debt that Jesus payed off with his own life of the cross,
I pray that you will find use in my life and push me towards completing that use.
In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.