A change of weather with the turn of August into September has made the mornings and evenings pleasant. It’s not just that they are cooler; the air feels different in a way I had almost forgotten during the long summer.
The refreshing change has turned my thoughts back to another late August, the most pleasant one I’ve ever experienced – my first days in Oxford in 2007.
I had just arrived there to study at the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. I got there a few days early to settle in before the courses started. And I was excited. I was about to live a dream of studying in Oxford. And the perfect weather had me that much more eager to explore and experience.
The combination of reveling in a new and happy experience and of looking forward to living out a dream made those perhaps the happiest days of my life. (I know what you’re thinking. I’ve never been married.) Nine years later, I can still almost taste how it felt.
There was the ancient city of Oxford to experience, one of the great libraries of the world to explore, church bells and music everywhere, glorious worship and glorious architecture, along with varieties of Englishness to make one smile. And even blackberries along the River Thames towpath and a mum and her boy shopping had a newness I enjoyed.
I’m hesitant to compare Oxford with the kingdom of God. But is that not what it will be like when Christ brings in His Kingdom? He will “make all things new.” (Revelation 21:5) And not only will we get to revel in the newness, including us being new, we will look forward to enjoying God and his pure and glorious goodness forever.
Perhaps that is the secret to happiness, if there is such a thing – to have experiences you enjoy now, particularly something good and new to venture into, along with a future to look forward to.
Yes, this world can hardly provide that although those first days in Oxford were almost intoxicating. Still, it turned out a dark, rainy Autumn in Oxford was not as pleasant as August. That’s the way of Oxford and of this world. But God can certainly give newness and a future better than we can even imagine.
So I am happy to enjoy the newness of this present turn of August into September and to look forward to the future turn of the kingdoms of this world into the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ.