Sometimes life can seem like a series of hurdles. Todays jobs, tomorrow's tasks, then the next thing we have to do. We may have a few things mapped out for the near future, where we're going on holiday, a meet-up with friends or family. Some people may even have an outline plan for their career! But few of us take the time to look at our longer term future. To think about the purpose of our life. It can be quite scary.
A film came out in the late 1990s called As Good As It Gets, starring Jack Nicholson as an OCD-suffering writer. It's an interesting film, well worth a watch. In it, at one point, Nicholson's character asks 'what if this is all there is?'. What if it is? Will it be enough?
Sometimes life throws us something that helps us realise that each day is actually a gift, and we can only live in this present moment. Then we know that, even if this is as good as it gets, it is good enough. Spring comes even after all the ice.
In Victorian times 'improving' was a keyword for Christians. Usually what they improved involved the lives of other people, and they often didn't ask if those other people wanted things 'improved'! Among those 'improvers' were the missionaries who've in recent years come in for a lot of flak for taking not just the gospel, but a whole lot of Victorian social values along with it when they made their difficult journeys to very remote places
it's easy for us to look back from our comfortable lives and dismiss the enthusiasm of those missionaries. But we forget just how difficult their lives were, and how much they gave up for what they believed in. Many survived only a few months in their mission-field. Travelling was difficult and time consuming, and those who went as missionaries gave up everything. They were unlikely to see or have contact with their friends and families again, and their lives were fraught with unknown dangers.
Todays missionaries live a very different life and approach their calling more sympathetically. But they still take up the challenge to share their faith because it is of vital importance to them, and because we can all see how much this world still needs to be loved and improved.