24th November 2020
As we approach the end of 2020, we are reflecting about what we have learnt as a church. Below is a reflection from Russ Barlow:
As I reflect on 2020 and the Covid crisis, I'm struck by how much of a rollercoaster journey I found the whole thing. In the early part of the lockdown, I seemed to have much more time than usual, and I enjoyed a sustained period of prayer and bible study which was exhilarating. But as the lockdown progressed, we needed to combine homeschooling and home working, which became increasingly more difficult to balance and I found myself becoming more and more stressed and anxious. Eventually I was at a point in which I no longer wanted to go out, meet or talk to anyone and in this dark place, even prayer was difficult.
But, as I look back now, I can see that God was just as present in the 'valley' as He was on the 'mountaintop'. I realise now, that God's love and Presence remain just as real whether I'm struggling or victorious, and that through it all He has been like a rock. He has been a steady and unfailing foundation right through the times when I've been all over the place. I'm so grateful for His graciousness, His love and sustaining compassion.
At one point during lockdown, I had a very vivid dream, which made me think it might possibly be from God. In the dream a Jewish guy invited me for a meal and offered me some small fried dough or bread. As I had no idea what this was about, so I googled it! Apparently, there's a Jewish donut type food called 'Sufganiyah' and its eaten to celebrate Hanukkah.
Hanukkah, remembers when a small band of Jewish men fought, against all the odds, a huge Greek army and the summary by the website really spoke to me:
'With a prayer on their lips and faith in their heart, they entered the battle of their lives—and won. We can do the same.' (Chabad.org)
One of the scriptures that is associated with Hannukah is Zechariah 4, 'Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit'
So for me, it was a timely reminder, that even when the odds are stacked against us, with little chance of victory, God can, and does, move on our behalf in the battles we face, an ever-present help in times of trouble.