God is working His purpose out…

Dear Friends,
We love taking holidays in Scotland, as the highland scenery is spectacularly beautiful. On a few occasions we have visited Eilean Donan Castle, on the north west coast, not far from the bridge over to Skye. On a clear day, there are very few places which can match it for beauty and location, as it sits peacefully surrounded by mountains, with its walls reflected in the still water of the loch. We have seen it at its very best, with blue skies and warm sunshine, and even the ice-cream was exceptional. Below is a link to its website, so you can see it for yourselves.
On our last visit to that region we booked a few nights in a hotel near the castle, with the intention of taking lots of photos, and also of crossing the bridge for a day on Skye. Unfortunately, Scotland had other ideas. As we drove north the glorious heatwave gradually petered out, until the fabulous landscape had completely disappeared behind a curtain of rain and mist. The castle was no more than a vague shadow with a few battlements occasionally making a fleeting appearance, and Skye was similarly lost to view. To say we were disappointed was an understatement. We knew the beautiful scenery was there in front of us, so close we could almost see it, but apparently lost to us in the clouds. We gave up the attempt, crossed the bridge again and went back to our hotel to sulk.
We have a large print of the castle and its landscape on our living room wall, which shows it bathed in sunshine, with gentle clouds and ripples on the surface of the loch. Looking at it the other day, we were reminded of our last experience of that landscape and the way we felt. There had been a deep sense of frustration and loss, as we had wanted so much to recapture the peace and freedom of our previous visits. We had travelled a long way and waited a long time to be there again, and we felt let down by the weather, the atmosphere and the whole situation.
And yet, how could we complain? Scotland’s wildly impressive landscape is shaped by its weather, and its timeless atmosphere is created by rain and mists just as much as by sunshine and blue skies. We had now seen the places we loved in a different, unwanted light, and our enjoyment of them had certainly been curtailed, but if we wanted to know them truly in all their variety, we had to see them at their darkest and most elusive, as well as at their most welcoming.
We wonder if that is a message for all of us right now. We might not clearly see how God is going to use this crisis, but we do know that His beauty, love, justice, welcome and power are still there, sometimes hidden by the mist which surrounds His purposes, but always solid and real. There will be times when all we see are the present difficulties and frustrations, and our experience of God will seem empty and futile, but these difficult days are still valid and life-shaping, bringing insights we might never have known if each season brought only the fulfilment of our dreams and plans. We all look forward to brighter days, but in the meantime let us hold fast to the truth that our God does not change with the weather, and is working His purposes out, as He always has.

With our love and prayers,
Matthew and Pauline