When I stepped off the aeroplane at Birmingham Airport returning from Australia last November (2019), the prospect of that being my last foreign trip for the foreseeable future seemed unlikely; and even now there seems to be no clues as to when international travel will be like what it was previously.
This time last year, plans for the year ahead (2020), in all walks of life, were being drawn up. Christmas 2019 was upon us and in the New Year, as people returned to work, school and university, no one could have anticipated or predicted what was to follow!
‘Restrictions’ has become the word of the day – where we can go, who we can see and so on. Life, as we knew it, seems to have come to an abrupt halt!
However, we have read encouraging stories of how, in lockdown, many people have started to re-evaluate their lives and consider the purpose of life. Many have connected to on-line Church Services and Alpha Courses and while thinking along these lines, 2 passages of Scripture came to mind that confirms that no restrictions can ‘restrict’ the power of God’s Word.
Isaiah 55:11 – ‘So shall my word be that goes forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it’. (KJV)
‘The Lord says, ‘My words do not come back empty-handed, they do the work I sent them to do’…. (Message Translation).
2 Timothy 2:9 (Paul writing his final letter to Timothy from his prison cell in Rome, shortly before his execution):
‘But the Word of God cannot be chained’…. (NLT).
‘God’s Word isn’t in jail’…. (Message Translation).
If you’d asked the apostle Paul, in the early days of his travels throughout the Roman Empire 2000 years ago, I suspect he’d have seen imprisonment as a huge hindrance to making the Gospel known. Because we see from the Book of Acts his ability to travel, unrestricted, made his mission a success.
However, by the time he wrote his letter to the Philippian Church he was already conscious that his ‘lockdown’(because of being ‘in chains’), had ‘served to advance the gospel’; and by the time he was writing to Timothy in the twilight of his earthly life, he declared the unambiguous truth – God’s word could never be chained!
As we enter Advent and look ahead to Christmas, even though life and our world is very different, the message of Advent Hope still rings out loud and clear. Our circumstances and surroundings might have changed but the truth and the wonder of the Christmas Story remains constant, and when it ‘goes out’ it never returns without achieving its purpose.
May the glorious message of Christmas ring out ‘loud and clear’ in our community!