There have been big celebrations in the Welford family this year as Marilyn (affectionately known as Mazza to the children) turned sixty. Now anyone who knows Marilyn would not be surprised to discover that the one thing she would want for her special birthday would be to be together with her family. Sadly, this was not possible on the big day because of grandchildren needing to be in school at opposite ends of the country, but we did manage to spend a night away from home in the friendliest hotel in the world.
Unbeknown to Marilyn our children had been planning a birthday surprise for quite some time. Between them they found a bunkhouse in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park that would sleep nineteen people (there are eleven of us). This was booked and the surprise was sprung during the Whitsun half-term break at the end of May. The bunkhouse is definitely not the Cardiff Hilton, but what it lacks in luxury it makes up for in space and location. What better place to belatedly celebrate your sixtieth birthday than shrouded in the seemingly permanent mist of a national park in Northern England?
But the weather doesn’t matter. We saw the sun on the first day and although we’d love to have seen the sun again the main thing is that we have walked together, talked together, played together, laughed together, eaten together, and just been together as a family.
When I look at my wife and realise how much God has given me in her, and when I look at our five children, two daughters-in-law and two grandchildren I know that I am blessed, truly blessed. I am blessed by a family that stands strong together because our relationships are underpinned by love. There is nothing our children would not do for each other. My prayer is that their example would be one that is followed by their children too.
But there is something else. Something far more important to me than watching my family interact together in the close quarters of a bunkhouse in the North Yorkshire Moors. Regardless of relationships and examples set by Marilyn and myself and our parents before us I believe that the glue that holds my family together is their strong faith in God. This is a family that negotiates the often windswept and misty paths of life in complete confidence in the salvation they have through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. So the weather doesn’t matter. We know that the sun will eventually shine through the mists of life. We know that the Son of God is coming back for His family. Have you accepted His invitation to be part of that family?
“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going.” (John 14:1-4 NLT)