My wife and I have just returned from a delightful week in a cottage shared with friends. We were in the heart of the Herefordshire countryside, which in my opinion is rural England at it’s very best. However, I’m biased as this was also the area where my family originated, going back to the 1600’s and earlier.
The amazing thing is that in some ways the countryside has changed little since those days. The country lanes, often lined with ancient oaks, on the whole are the same, except the dirt surface has been replaced with tarmac. Some old farm buildings are still standing including timber-framed houses in various states of repair and even older churches.
It was a really good feeling to soak in these pastoral scenes, including cattle and sheep grazing in lush green meadows by the side of a meandering river, all bathed in brilliant sunlight. It was idyllic, but don’t be deceived. That was the rural setting then, but the realities of living in those times for most were hard and come the industrial revolution the working conditions were often appalling. My ancestors were God-fearing, hard working, stoical artisans, but life was hard and they were used to ever-present poverty and grief. I am thankful for and welcome the former inheritance – which, together with my upbringing has helped shape me – but have sought freedom through Jesus from the latter.
It’s good to look back and be thankful, but I was reminded that as Christians we have an incredibly delightful inheritance. We have a new home with Father that is as old as the hills, but lasts for ever. What’s more we don’t have to wait for our inheritance, we can experience this life-changing ‘gift’ right now, giving us a taste of what is to come. There have been difficult times when I have thought my lot was far from being a ‘pleasant place’, but am learning that God only allows what He can use to bring us closer to Him and prepare us for our everlasting future with Him.
I find that just to think and meditate on this touches me to the core.
“Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.” Psalm 16:5-6 New International Version