Summing up 2 years of life on one page isn’t an easy task. But a rain-swept, humid summer’s day in Auckland offers us the chance to share what the last two years of life have been like for us.
Much has happened since the last time William wrote to you. And much more since the earlier years, both painful and precious to reflect on.
In 2010 and 2011, one particular narrative from the Bible has been a remarkably apt allegory for our personal lives.
Through Moses, God spoke to the fledgling band of Israelites who’d just left for a far country:
“…when the Lord your God brings you into the land that he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you—with great and good cities that you did not build, and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant—and when you eat and are full, then take care lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. It is the Lord your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear.” (Deut 6:10-13)
Our connection to this story is that as Christians, a little like the Israelites, over the past two years we’ve personally been gifted many things we don’t deserve.
The gift of marriage (6 Feb 2010, best day ever), and the chance for us to dance in minefields together
The gift of a home (crosslease, 2 bedrooms) full of all good things we didn’t fill, fruit-bearing vines we didn’t plant, and opportunities to practise and grow in hospitality (lit. “love for strangers”).
The gift of family – unconditionally loving brothers, sisters, parents, partners, future brothers, and an adorable nephew!
The gift of a church family who encourage us and spur us to love and serve our head shepherd, Jesus Christ.
The gift of ministry (Cheryl in sound/singing/wherever needed, William in leading gathered worship) – where there’s much joy, growth and refinement in the crucible of service to the Lord and His people.
The gift of friends from near and far: Gaithersburg, Howick, Brisbane, Christchurch, Kuching, Alabama and even our neighbours down the road
The gift of work (Cheryl as a web developer/soon-to-be-household manager, William as a medical writer) – which we get to gladly do as unto the Lord.
… and the gift of our own child – being fearfully and wonderfully woven together in Cheryl’s womb as we write this.
Even amidst the sadness, corruption and pain that sin and death brought to the world this year (e.g. Japan, Christchurch), for reasons yet to be explained to us, God’s chosen to pour out much grace in our lives. And yet we’ve also met and befriended folks – people who you think surely have little to be thankful for this past year, but yet continue to see new mercies each day.
So back to the story.
Just like God’s people in the time of Moses,
we also should take care
lest we forget the Lord
who brings people out of slavery
into great things that we didn’t build, fill, dig, plant, or deserve
who gives to us much to eat and be filled with
and who did not spare even His own Son as the ultimate gift
so that we might be reconciled to God Himself.
It is the Lord your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear.
And so in response, this coming year may it be the LORD we revere, serve, swear by, and live by.
Have a Happy New Year everyone!
– Cheryl and William