We were going to replace our old television eventually in any case. But when we were shopping in our small town-centre Sainsbury’s and found a new set at just under half price it seemed too good an opportunity to miss. And I’m so glad we bought it – not least because that evening we watched the first episode of the stunning BBC series Earthflight which follows the migrations of birds across six continents. The photography was truly stunning, and it was all there on a bright new 32′ HD ready screen.
One of the birds featured was the snow goose which has to fly 3000 miles north each year to its breeding grounds in the Arctic. It has to cross a whole variety of terrains – including completely arid deserts – and face the constant threat of predators. Sometimes it has to fly 2-3 days without a break, and during this time it can lose 3000 calories and a third of its body fat.
This got me thinking a bit about our own spiritual lives. There are days when it can seem we are almost flying as we dash from one important activity to another. There seems little time to top up our prayer life, and indeed we can be tempted to say that somehow there are better things to do. Yet if we burn up too much of our spiritual reserves we can end up in one sense starved, and our living relationship with our loving Heavenly Father weakens.
In the programme the geese came into land, but found the grass they needed for grazing was covered in snow. They were forced to take off again, but where to go? The experienced mother geese had the answer. That reminds me that we need the help of experienced believers who can help us when times are tough, who can show us where to find the spiritual reserves that we need.
After all, no snow goose migrates alone. It journeys in small families, but those families together build up into a flock of thousands. Without wishing to be too fanciful, that seemed to me to be a kind of parable of how the church ought to operate. Small groups of Christians who belong to each other, but are also part of a wider congregation – hopefully all travelling in the same direction!
So as we come to the end of one year, and look forward to the next, here are some questions:
- How do you feed yourself spiritually?
- Do you find your life of prayer and Bible reading enriching at the moment?
- If not, how might you find more nourishment day by day?
- How do you build up spiritual reserves to get you through the busy days?
- Do you feel you are travelling alone or do you have a spiritual family where you belong?
- Who can you turn to for advice and support when you need wisdom and help?
- Are there others you in turn can help and advise?
- Would you say your faith has grown and developed over the past year?
- How do you see your faith developing in 2012?
- What practical steps do you need to take?