Janet`s January 2018 letter to the Community

Dear Friends

About 18 months ago, I wrote for the magazine that I had started running.  I wasn’t sure then that I would be able to keep it up, but I did eventually manage to achieve one or two uninterrupted runs of 30 minutes.  Sadly, the cold and the darker mornings, compounded by wet grass leading to very wet feet – I can’t run on hard surfaces because my knees won’t allow it – led me to give up in December 2016. 

It took a while to get motivated again, but in September 2017 I acquired a personal trainer at the gym, and am now finding muscles I had no idea existed!  It is fascinating discovering an ability to do things which initially seem impossible.  My trainer (who is very patient) says something like, “Now you do this”, and I look on in amazement and think, “Well I know I won’t be able to do that.”  But I try, because that’s the deal – and, almost always, I find that I can do it.  It doesn’t look as elegant or as effortless as when she does it, but it happens.  And it gets easier with practice.  That’s not only because I am getting physically fitter, but also because the muscles learn what they have to do, and the movements begin to be imprinted in my body and my bodily memory.

There’s something almost magical about practice.  It changes us.  We discover that we can do things that seemed impossible – whether that’s exercise, or music or art.  Practice uncovers ability.  The same is true of our characters.  Christians believe that God’s forgiveness and love for us is a free gift that cannot be earned, but that our response to that love is to try to be worthy of it.  And so we are urged to seek to develop our characters so that we become more like the people God created us to be.  The nineteenth-century Scottish minister, Henry Drummond, wrote: 

“The world is not a play-ground, it is a schoolroom.  Life is not a holiday, but an education.  What makes a man [he was writing in the nineteenth century!] a good cricketer?  Practice.  What makes a man a good artist, a good sculptor, a good musician?  Practice.  What makes a man a good man?  Practice.  Nothing else.  If a man does not exercise his arm he develops no biceps muscle; and if a man does not exercise his soul, he acquires no muscle in his soul, no strength of character, no beauty of spiritual growth.”

It can be hard work, and we can get jaded.  But we can always start again.  As we stand at the beginning of a new year, let’s determine to take opportunities to practise developing the kind of character we know that God longs to see in us.  Practice.  It’s transformative!

With every blessing, 


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