27 March 2013

#lentphotos - 38 - the road travelled

Last autumn my oldest girl friend turned 50 (oldest as in friend whom I have known the longest and kept in touch with over the years). She knew something was going to happen that weekend but her children and partner tried to keep as much secret as possible. And so various people turned up at the remote North Yorkshire farm where they live at different times. Delighted squeals of re-union punctuated the still surrounding air throughout the happy weekend.

In between the feasting, chatting and catching up with people there was plenty of time to chill. And so the Scotsman and I took a walk along this, one of the many farm tracks. (The photo seems appropriate in itself since the name of the farm contains the word 'mud').

The farm has grown potatoes for many generations. Vehicles drive up and down this road most of the year round, travelling to the fields thousands of times to harvest the potatoes and bring them back to the vast barns for sorting and bagging.

It is a familiar and purposeful route for the farmer and his workers, although it is too insignificant to be marked on a map. The imprint in the soil alters the appearance each time a tractor drives down it, so although the direction and destinations are the same, a subtle shift is occurring in the earth all the time. It is both the same and continually changing. 


And this too is the place where we hash out our day to day living with God, in the muddy middle, an undefined place between the starting point and the journey end. Sometimes in the humdrum every day routine of life, other times during the special occasions where we mark the passing of time, the arrival of the new or letting go and saying farewell.

And all the time holy work takes place in our hearts, where the master tattooist carves Himself, in slow and painstaking work.

       I’m writing out the plan in them, carving it on the lining of their hearts - Hebrews 8:10

We long to avoid the hard work, the tired slog of the endless every day (whatever that means for us) and wincing at the thought of pain. All that which takes place in the centre.  

We’d love a bit more of the celebratory party feeling or endless relaxation and cocktails by an infinity pool, whatever refreshes and renews us, brings us alive and makes us feel good. Don’t we just deserve at least a bit of that?

But really the dirty road is the place where He whispers the things we need to know. The things we don’t deserve, but He freely gives them anyway.


The act of continually churning of the soil beneath our feet when we put one foot in front of the other, also brings unexpected treasures to the surface. And if we are fortunate enough we notice them.


So while we were walking along this track my eye picked out what looked like an old penny, and I extracted it from the mud. Although it was so worn and dirty, it seemed almost inconsequential and could have just been some sort of unknown disc. 

Since we have been home the Scotsman has been slowly buffing the coin (he is patient like that). Although markings have deteriorated over the years by the weight of its journey through the layers of soil, it is a verifiable 1882 Victorian penny. 

As Jesus walked the dusty dirty road towards the hill outside town, bearing the pain from carrying the weight of all our sin, I am reminded time and again, grateful that God does not consider me too insignificant to overlook.

I'm in that place once again
Once again I look upon the cross where you died
I'm humbled by Your mercy and I'm broken inside
Once again I thank You..
Thank You for the cross

(Matt Redman: Jesus Christ, I think upon Your sacrifice)

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