If we knew then . . .

The Tatura Guardian - - News - — Brian Spencer, Min­is­ter, Tatura Unit­ing Church

Christ­mas and New Year are of­ten a time of look­ing back on the year gone past.

Some­times our lives run pretty much as ex­pected, but for most of us there are some un­ex­pected twists and turns in our sto­ries, and it’s easy to find your­self say­ing ‘‘If only I knew then, what I know now’’.

Af­ter a dry year, farm­ers look back on de­ci­sions about crops and live­stock and think what they might have done dif­fer­ently.

Re­la­tion­ships break down, there is be­trayal, hurt and se­crets; the truth is re­vealed over time and we find our­selves say­ing, ‘‘If only I knew then, what I know now’’.

Ill­ness, dis­ease and ac­ci­dents can turn our lives up­side down. The un­ex­pected death of a loved one brings sor­row and new per­spec­tives on life. ‘‘If only I’d known’’.

If we only had a crys­tal ball to give us those in­sights into the un­known.

If we could only have that ge­nius kid from the movies who would look at our ill­ness, our busi­ness, our lives and see those hid­den pat­terns and cor­re­la­tions, point us to a cure or help us make the right de­ci­sions, and move aside the dis­trac­tions that stall our ac­tions.

Some­times life also sur­prises us in pos­i­tive ways.

At birth­days, we look back through old photo al­bums and ex­claim, ‘‘look how cute you were. How could we even imag­ine the per­son you would be­come?’’

Birth­days are a nat­u­ral time to look back and see where we’ve been, be­cause life also has a way of tak­ing us places we’d never imag­ined.

The mod­ern Christ­mas carol, Mary, Did You Know? spec­u­lates on Mary’s thoughts af­ter Je­sus’ birth:

‘‘Mary did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?

‘‘Mary did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand?

‘‘Did you know that your baby boy has walked where an­gels trod?

‘‘When you kiss your lit­tle baby, you kiss the face of God.’’

The gospel tells us that Mary in­deed knew that Je­sus was spe­cial, but would have had no idea just how spe­cial.

The cir­cum­stances of his birth, the strange run of vis­i­tors; shep­herds, an­gels and for­eign no­ble­men.

Luke tells us that ‘‘Mary trea­sured up all these things (the events of the Na­tiv­ity) and pon­dered them in her heart.’’ (Luke 2:19).

His dis­ci­ples must have looked back on their be­hav­iour, re­ac­tions and at times out­right stu­pid­ity and said, ‘‘If only we knew’’.

This Christ­mas here are five things you can do which won’t have you say­ing, ‘‘If only I’d known’’.

1. Feed your soul. It’s the in­tan­gi­ble (spir­i­tual) things like trust, hope, joy, grat­i­tude, faith, pa­tience, gen­eros­ity and love that make life worth liv­ing.

2. Spend time with the peo­ple you love. No-one dies think­ing that they should have spent more time at work.

3. Learn to love peo­ple who are dif­fer­ent to you. Any­one can like those who are like them­selves. Walk a mile in an­other per­son’s shoes. You won’t re­gret hav­ing em­pa­thy.

4. Be kind, for ev­ery­one you meet is fight­ing a hard bat­tle you may know noth­ing about.

5. Take the risk to show your authen­tic, im­per­fect self to the world, our sense of be­long­ing can never be greater than our level of self-ac­cep­tance.

We can never know the fu­ture, but we can fol­low with the one who can take us there.

This is the gospel, and it’s good news.

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