We had just got out of the car and were setting off through a few houses to start our walk along the coast. Suddenly I heard their unmistakable honking – Whooper Swans!
I only caught a glimpse of them before they vanished behind the nearby rooftops. But what a sight.
At this time of year, they were probably nearing the end – reaching it even – of their annual migration from the Arctic. It had been a long flight, well over 1,000 kilometres over the wild North Atlantic. But their survival depended on their making this journey. Stay in the Arctic winter and they’d die. But now they’ll find food and shelter.
At one time we were all in the place of death: apart from Christ and ‘slaves to sin’. If we had stayed there, we could no more have escaped sin’s inevitable consequences than the Whooper Swans could have escaped the consequences of the Arctic winter – death.
In their letters Paul and Peter often took delight in thinking about what it had been like for Christian believers, but just how different things were now. Once it was like this, ‘but now!’
‘You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord’ (Ephesians 5:8).
‘Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behaviour. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation’ (Colossians 1:21-22).
‘Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy’ (1 Peter 2:10).
‘You were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls’ (1 Peter 2:25).
Those magnificent Whooper Swans have flown from where it would soon be night 24/7, and where there would be no food, to a place of light and nourishment.
And you and me? ‘Once darkness, but now light in the Lord’; ‘Once alienated from God, but now reconciled’; ‘Once not a people, but now God’s people’; ‘Once straying, but now returned’ to the Good Shepherd’. ‘Once slaves to sin’ but now freed from sin’s power.
Prayer: Father God, today I praise You that taken me out of the darkness of sin and alienation from You and brought me into the glorious light of Your salvation. Today I recommit myself to walk in the light of Your presence, following Your way which leads to holiness and eternal life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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