Solid rain was the forecast. Undaunted I peddled and paddled out, in pursuit of some soaked solace. It was a challenging week and I needed to get away from it all, so off I sped through Dalry, over Fairlie Moor and down to Largs to visit my wee maw. A few burns and streams broke their banks and turned roads into rolling waves. I imagined riding a surfboard rather than a gravel bike.

Between Largs Marina and Kelburn Golf Course, the deep flooding saw passing traffic douche and drench me, their slaps on the face like ‘tsunami-sandwiches’. I had to laugh!

Eventually I reached my surprised mum, a bedraggled, dripping, duckling, “Hi mum, it’s me, Neil, your soaked son!” She couldn’t believe it, but ushered me in to wring my clothes out and dry them as best we could. It was good to catch up and get some lunch. ‘Discretion being the better part of valour’ I had decided long before reaching Largs that I’d return by train. My cycling togs, still super soggy, back on, I boarded the Glasgow train, Billy Connolly’s song ringing through my gears, “You better catch this one, and you better have a ticket ‘cos here’s the man, Biddie biddie bum bum to Glasgow Central…”

It was such a comfort to sit in the warmth and whiz past The Pencil, stopping at all the stations through to Kilwinning where I disembarked to cycle the rest of the way home to Irvine. It was all quite nostalgic: 40 years earlier on the last trains home I ended up in Ayr when sleep overtook me, and I missed the train change at Kilwinning. There I was around midnight in Ayr Square phoning my grandpa to rescue and return me home in his car. He was not too chuffed, but bailed me out, nonetheless.

I reflected on how we can miss important changes in life, due to sleepiness, stubbornness, ignorance, poor choices, etc, and end up far from home and God’s perfect will. And yet how gracious God is in His readiness to rescue us. Christmas celebrates God’s overwhelming generosity and willingness to rescue and redirect us into His loving purpose and plan. In Christ God comes to lead us into a full and fulfilling life, indeed life-eternal.

Are you (am I) alert and ready for the change(s) required to move us from God’s ‘permissive will’ into His ‘perfect will’ where God wants you to be blessed and become a rich blessing to others? My dear grampa, who was a wonderful ‘dad’ figure for me, grumbled about having to leave home’s comfort to drive the 35 miles to return me home, but he did it out of love and duty.

There is nowhere beyond Father-God’s reach! You may feel that you’re beyond it, please be sure you’re not. Like the dog lead that is let out, there comes a point when it’s clicked to stop us going any further. But will we allow God to lead us back into His promises, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11 / NIV)

Returned home, warmed up and dried out, after my messy ‘maw-mission’ and trip down memory lane, I felt cleansed and re-centred on the real ‘reason for the season’, Jesus. Journey well my friends!