Fireflies, Grace and Favour

In the film Fireflies in the Garden Charles is a harsh and domineering father. When teenage relative Jane comes to stay one summer he tells his young son Michael to draw up a list of the rules. It turns out to be a multi-page document, and one which Jane is highly unlikely to read. We don’t know why Charles is harsh and overbearing, but we do know how it impacts his relationship with his son. Years later when the family reunite after a tragedy there is friction and tension between them. In the film The Miracle Club, a group of friends travelling to Lourdes talk from time to time of fearing God’s punishment for their past mistakes. Yet they are still drawn towards his help and grace.

We sometimes split the Bible into two, seeing ‘an Old Testament God’ – harsh and frightening, and ‘a New testament God’ – kind and compassionate.  And yet in the Old Testament God is frequently portrayed as caring. In Psalm 73 the writer speaks of being stubborn and bitter, and then says: ‘Yet I still belong to you; you are holding my right hand.’ A picture of a caring father walking beside us, holding our hands. Psalm 23 describes God as a caring shepherd. So does Ezekiel in chapter 34 v 11-15 of his book. In Isaiah 68 v 13 God describes himself as a mother comforting her children. And there are many more examples of this.

We may all fear God and punishment at times, often as a result of folks in this life who have been harsh and domineering towards us. When the disciples meet a man born blind in John chapter 9, their first thought is to wonder what sin or wrongdoing caused this, what brought this punishment? They are sin and punishment focused. But Jesus immediately corrects them, saying that it has nothing to do with sin whatsoever, and instead this is an opportunity for God’s glory to be shown in their lives. I think Jesus knows that we frequently fear God is harsh and judging, that’s why he told his parable in Luke 18, about a powerless widow, refusing to give up calling out to an unjust judge. God is not an unjust judge, but Jesus used this image in his story, to encourage us not to shy away from God, even if we have the wrong and distorted picture of him. Jesus spoke of only doing what he saw his father already doing, and he said that he had come for the broken and broken-hearted, for the poor and the poor in spirit, for the outsiders and the weak. He spent so much of his time with ‘sinners’ whose who really needed him.

One final Old Testament thought, in Numbers 6 v 24-26 there is a lovely blessing for us all. Another sign of God’s hope and love for us.

‘May the LORD bless you, and protect you. May the LORD smile on you and be gracious to you.

May the LORD show you his favour and give you his peace.’ At the end of this email I have written another version of this. God bless you today. He cares deeply for you.


May the Lord look after you,

And may you know how much he values and appreciates you.

May the one who created you put his light in your heart,

And energy in your being.

May you know peace amidst the turmoil,

And favour when you doubt yourself.

Numbers 6 v 24-26

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