For the last two years we have come together as a family at the end of May in the North Yorkshire Moors – a stunningly beautiful part of the UK. We stay in a small cellphone signal free village called Rosedale Abbey, which is located down in the valley with steep slopes leading up to the moorland above.
Last year when we visited the North York Moors the beauty of the area was largely obscured by mist. This year the sun shone revealing the moors and the valleys and the villages in all their beauty. The mist of 2016 did not stop us doing things. We did get wet and muddy, and we needed to wrap up against the chill, but we still enjoyed our time in the moors, realising that beauty is not just in what we can see, but in what we are, and especially in our family as we spent time together.
I am currently reading through the book of Job and have been struck by how what must have seemed a blessed and beautiful life with a great family suddenly became full of darkness and despair. When a mist that Job could not understand descended and refused to budge Job still recognised the omnipotence of God. But while acknowledging God’s role in the beauty and immensity of creation Job could not see God, and he didn’t understand why. Job said: “He (God) does great things too marvellous to understand. He performs countless miracles. Yet when He comes near, I cannot see Him. When He moves by, I do not see Him go.” (Job 9:10-12 NLT)
It seems that in his time of greatest need Job chose to wallow in self-pity. He didn’t curse or deny God, but he definitely allowed the mist to cloud his judgement and conceal the true nature, character, and beauty of God. It is easy to understand why, as most of us have been there in the past, and are likely to be in that place again in the future. But as I read through Job I get the feeling that he is crying out for the sort of relationship with God that the sacrificial death of Jesus eventually made possible: “My friends scorn me, but I pour out my tears to God. I need someone to mediate between God and me.” (Job 16:20-21 NLT)
Although darkness (not mist) descended when Jesus died, His death was beautiful beyond all created things. It was beautiful because in dying as He did Jesus defined the love of God for each and every one of us, including the long departed Job, who saw the need for a Saviour not realising that this was already in hand. And that’s the problem for us humans. Sometimes the mist descends and we just cannot see the beauty that is right in front of us – that of Jesus, the most wonderful and beautiful gift we could ever wish to receive.
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12 NIV)