God made it, God loves it and God looks after it
One of the wonderful things about being Christian in 2021 is that we have centuries worth of wise, faithful people that have come before us. Much has changed over the centuries since the early church we read about in the Acts of the Apostles, but God hasn’t changed. He’s the same now as He was when the first Christians were getting to know Him, so it’s wonderful to be able to read the thoughts of Christians from 100s of years ago, because they speak of the same God we know today.
In 1373 a woman known as Julian of Norwich was dying. We don’t know much about her, but she was a woman of faith, and some think perhaps a Benedictine nun. As she lay there incredibly unwell she was blessed with a brief respite in her pain, during which she received 15 visions from God. The next day when her pain returned she received a 16th vision so she’d be in no doubt about what had happened the previous night. What a blessing to hear from God in that way. I wonder how often we are bold enough to ask God to show us something like Julian did. I love the way she describes what sounds like a conversation with God about these visions.
She didn’t die from this illness, but went on to spend over 20 years meditating on these visions, making sense of them, and writing them down. These visions, though hundreds of years old, speak so powerfully to us today. The blog this week will look at 2 of her most famous visions. But if you want to read or listen to them yourself look here: https://julianofnorwich.org/ or here https://www.gutenberg.org/files/52958/52958-h/52958-h.htm
One of her visions was of something that looked like a hazelnut. As she looked at it she “wondered how it could survive. It was so small that I expected it to shrivel up and disappear”. The answer from God was that “it exists now and always because God loves it… In this small thing I see three truths: first God made it, second God loves it, and third God looks after it.”
For Julian, the hazelnut was an image of who God is and what He is like: creating, loving, preserving. But also, a reminder that we and creation are tiny compared to God. He is infinite and uncreated, and if we try to find rest in the small things of this earth, then we will be left unsatisfied. “God alone is true rest.”
The tiny hazelnut makes me think of both how God cares for the tiny things, and also how vast God is. In Luke 12:7 we read “Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered”. The detail of His care is so great that He knows every hair on our heads! But the magnitude of God is beyond our imaginations; in Psalm 24.1 it says “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it”. I can imagine the whole of creation being like a tiny hazelnut in God’s hand.
Perhaps if you’re out and about this week you might come across a fallen hazelnut or an acorn. Take it home, pray with it, hold it, marvel at how God created it, loved it, and looks after it. Marvel at how God made you, loves you, and looks after you; every hair on your head! Marvel at how God made the whole of creation, loves it and looks after it; how the whole earth is held in His vast hand. And as you do, marvel that God is the same as He was when He inspired Julian of Norwich over 600 years ago.
Photo by M Alazia on Unsplash