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Stepping into what God has for us - Pastor's Pen for 21st January 2024

Three main challenges currently confront the trail runners of the North Shore; storm damage from last summer, Kauri dieback trail closures, and planned maintenance of other often-used trails.

Imagine my joy when I decided to re-visit the recently upgraded Shepherds Park coastal path and discovered it to be metamorphosed from an up and down grunt over pipes and gullies, into a scenic wonder, at least at high tide. It is now far more attractive and generally closer to the water's edge. For the more 'mature' runner, there is also the relief to the knees of a vanilla smooth board walk or formed path most of the way, rather than the short, steep climbs and pine roots.

I'm sure you can spot that this is turning into a metaphor of the spiritual life. Predictable, I know. Sometimes in our lives we do experience rocky ground and a difficult path. Other times the journey is surprisingly beautiful with moments of wonder. In my view, God's grace can be encountered in either circumstance, and both can seem to be happening in the same week.

Scripture is full of encouragement to stay optimistic in the course of life that God has us on. Here is some from Isaiah 43: 18-19; ‘Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.'

I will quickly learn to enjoy the new trail in Shepherd's Park, while retaining the memory and lessons the old path gave me. God strengthens us through challenges, but also gives us moments of joy. We remain a people of hope, believing in his grace and love.

What new paths will God lead us on as individuals and as a community in 2024? Perhaps we need some boldness and encouragement to step into it. Shalom.

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