“For each age is a dream that is dying,
Or one that is coming to birth.”
These are the closing lines of “Ode” by Arthur O’Shaughnessy, in which he muses on the power of dreamers to shape, create and eventually to demolish and reconstruct the world as we know it in our lifetime. Movers and shakers arrive on the scene with freshly milled theories of how things should be, and cities and empires are built on nebulous promises of greatness and glory. Some prosper for a season then vanish into history like the dew of the morning.
We are living in momentous times, when so many norms seem spooked and instability, like a bolting horse, kicks the political landmarks up in the air. We are relentlessly reminded that unchartered waters lie ahead, and despite our best efforts to take counsel from so called experts, we discover weasel words and shifting plans of action. Small wonder then that we may be viewing the landscape of the future with trepidation and anxiety.
We need to be able to cultivate hope and stand in a centre of calmness not built on false dreams but grounded firmly in faith in a living, wise Sovereign God. We need reassurance that we are not stumbling blindly into a quagmire of uncertainties relying on untested notions of governance.
At this time of year, we may recall the advice broadcast by the Queen’s father to the fragile nation in a difficult time. “Put your hand in the hand of God.” Unable to see the signposts of the future, we can reach out and grasp the guiding hand that has preserved the nation in the turmoil of conflict and war. “It shall be to you better than a known way.”
If we look back to the example of Abraham who heard the call of God to uproot from a familiar homeland and to set course for unexplored territory, we find the story of a man who made mistakes, but whose trust in God brought him ultimately to the centre of divine promise and fulfilment.
Some may suspect that naïve wishful thinking had invaded everything he possessed and every person under his care. Only the experience of a tried and tested relationship with his God could propel him into such life-changing decisions. With a great entourage of family, staff, possessions and livestock, he set out in obedience and in communion with God to establish a new dwelling place and to become the father figure of nations, commended for faith and honoured to this day.
The significant factor in the character of Abraham was his unstinting trust in the intention of God to lead and to prosper him as long as he followed the divine plan. Abraham found the source of inner strength and calm in daunting circumstances.
That source remains available to us also in times ahead if we will seek it.
In the song “The Eye”, Brandi Carlile sings,
“You can dance in a hurricane
But only if you are standing in the Eye.”
As the New Year opens, we may feel that we are whirling relentlessly in a hurricane of change over which we have pitifully little control.
We need to stand in the calm centre of trust.
May you dance in your spirit knowing security and peace of mind, concentrating on that which is good and righteous, and be full of hope.
Happy New Year to you all.