It was our wedding anniversary recently and having neglected our favourite spot during lockdown, we decided to head to the coast for a day out.
The weather that had been glorious for weeks had now turned, as English summers often do, and the forecast for the day was a cool and cloudy morning with rain arriving at lunchtime.
Never mind, we would plan our day carefully with a walk on the beach early while it was dry and then head to lunch and some shopping when the rain set in.
So, we fed the dog, put lunch out for Paul’s mom and packed the British summer combo of raincoats and sunglasses before heading south.
But, the closer we got, the less accurate the weather forecast appeared to be. By the time we reached the beach it was, as the locals would say, ‘tipping it down’. We sat in the car, the windows fogged up and my mood tanked.
I wasn’t upset that it was raining; I had expected that. I was upset that my careful plan had backfired. Now the walk would be wet and cold and the dry weather would arrive just as were heading inside to eat.
I pouted for 20 minutes while my husband, thinking on his feet, found a local coffee shop and promptly ordered strong coffees and bacon sandwiches. He knows me well.
Thankfully my blood sugar and my mood improved so we pulled raincoats and hats out of the car and began to walk the beach towards the town. It was drizzly and cool but still beautiful with dark clouds colouring the sea grey.
As we walked, I had a redeeming thought.
Actually, it is nicer to have the good weather ahead of us than behind us because it is more fun waiting for the sun than dreading the clouds on the horizon.
And sure enough, as we walked through damp sand and broken seashells, past families with soggy dogs and toddlers in rain boots, slowly the horizon began to brighten up. It was gradual and sometimes we thought we might be imagining it, but after walking for an hour it was definitely brighter out over the sea.
And then I had my other redeeming thought.
This is just like the Christian life. The best weather is ahead of us.
Let’s be honest, life on earth is a mixed bag. Some parts of the journey are all skipping and dancing; other days are much more of a trudge. There are busy seasons when hours run out before the to-do list does and all our edges are frazzled. There are longed for celebration days that are full to the brim with good news and confetti and smiles. And there are sad days, good-bye days and letting-go-before-I-want-to days.
But all the while, slowly off in the distance, the sky is getting brighter as our eternal hope, warm like summer sunshine, comes closer.
Is today a trial for you? Is it a ‘holding on by the skin of your teeth’ kind of day, damp with disappointment?
Look out to the horizon with eyes of faith. The good weather is ahead of you.
Or maybe today is a blue ribbon day for you that drips with blessing and flows with milk and honey.
Still, look to the horizon so you don’t forget.
Every one of your best days are still to come.
For children of God there is an endless summer ahead where rain and tears are banished and where disappointment, disease and death will fade from our memory like a bad dream we had once had.
CS Lewis describes this place in his book, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, like this:
‘The term is over, the holidays have begun. The dream is ended; this is the morning….. and now at last they were beginning chapter one of the Great Story which no one on earth has read; which goes on forever, in which every chapter is better than the one before.’
What is ahead of us is more real, more glorious, more beautiful than anything we have experienced or can imagine.
This truth allows us to live the hard days with confident, expectant hope and to live the really great days with open hands. It makes us people who aren’t running from clouds but looking for the sun to break through, people who live this life well because it is short and it matters but there is so, so much more.
And when we breathe in our first breath of heaven, we will exclaim, like the guests at that wedding in Cana, that our God has saved the best for last.
‘Wake up for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.’ (Romans 13.11b)