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I recently came across some photographs, displayed on a board, depicting various members of the church in their earliest years. I seem to remember that these pictures were gathered some years ago for a competition, when we were invited to try to identify this collection of toothless infants. When eventually the identity of the sitters was revealed, I found myself thinking “Well, would you believe it!”

But let us try to imagine this happening in reverse. Suppose that we could gather a set of pictures of what we are today, and imagine that somehow, besides our physical characteristics, our true inner characters could somehow be depicted. We would probably say to ourselves, “Goodness, that is never me, is it?”

We can see a picture such as this in the Sermon on the Mount, and in those other passages where Jesus tells us how life ought to be lived. Put it all together, and we have a description of how a real person would live and what they would be like. And this is everybody’s picture, not perhaps as we are now, but as we shall be, really His children, like Jesus, His Son.

Minister Chris Damp MA, BD

But how can this happen? If we are to arrive at any destination, we have to set out upon a journey. The year ahead may bring many unexpected things for us all, but let us set out, with the faith that Jesus is a very real part of our life’s journey, that He knows what is best for us in life’s various circumstances and that He is with us in all that life brings our way. We sometimes sing “Jesus, lover of my soul”: there’s a line in this hymn which says just this: “Thou, O Christ , art all I want”.

Now if we live in the coming days and weeks like this, journeying with Christ, we will find that we begin to grow. We will carry something over from one day to the next. We will walk with a steadier step. We will come to know our Master’s mind better, and will be able to anticipate more truly what His answer will be to this or that question.

Think of a small child. When it first learns to walk its steps are halting and unsteady. The child often holds a parent’s hand. Then as they grow in years and in confidence they gradually do not need their hands holding any more. This does not mean that they are growing away from the parent, but they are growing more like the parent as they mature.

This is what our heavenly Father wants to happen to us, His children. He wants us to grow, so that we might be able to watch us go about our daily tasks and face the challenges that life brings to us, knowing that we can manage, that we know what to do, and that we can be trusted to do it. When God sees this, He rejoices, because He knows that we are growing up, and becoming just a bit more like His picture of what we will all be like in the end.

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