The Parishes of Crail and St Ayle

Reflections from Dorothy Neilson 

Sunday - 22 August 2021

Good morning, friends in Crail and St Ayle,

Gathering into the presence of God.

What is the nagging question in your life right now?  For some of us that will be a simple question to answer.  For many of us, well, not so easy! 

The nagging unease in my own mind started in lockdown when I began to think, “What is the point?  What am I contributing to the world?  What am I supposed to do here? 

One of my favourite Bible stories is about that old leader of the children of Israel in the days when they were wandering around the desert looking for their own purpose in life.  You will remember the great leadership given by Moses at that time.  Miracles, wonders, great teaching.  A fabulous leader.  Then Moses died.  Help!  What now???  Joshua knew that he was the one who had to take over and lead all these restless people through the next part of their journey and into a more settled period of their national history.  But how?

I think we all ask that question.  What? Why? How?


I felt that when lockdown happened.  I felt it when lockdown eased.  I feel it right now to be honest.  Sometimes we are at the start of something new.  It might be ‘happy new’.  It might be ‘sad new’.  Sometimes we are just plodding on.  Sometimes we are so puzzled and confused by our lives that we either despair and worry, or maybe we just go numb inside to avoid feeling the panic that is mounting up.

Poor Joshua.  He was at the end of a significant chapter of his life and standing right at the beginning of the next chapter.  If he was scared, who could blame him?  Most of us will recognise times like that in our own lives.  The people in the tents in the middle of the desert were also standing wondering, “What next?”  And “How?”  What is the point?”  “Do I have the strength to face what’s ahead?” 

I love the fact that God gives us everlasting truths in these stories of his people over the ages.  The Israelites in this case, were about to hear one of them.  And so are we.  Here are the words God said to Joshua.  These are the words the people under his care needed to hear too.  And these are words of everlasting truth given for us as well.  Read the words from God to Joshua as the poor man was wondering how on earth to carry on.

Joshua 1

“After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying, 2 “My servant Moses is dead. Now proceed to cross the Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them.  As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you.  6 Be strong and courageous; for you shall put this people in possession of the land that I swore to their ancestors to give them.  7 Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to act in accordance with all the law that my servant Moses commanded you.   Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.  Remember the word that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, saying, ‘The Lord your God is providing you a place of rest, and will give you this land.’

Then Joshua said to the people, “Sanctify yourselves; for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.  Draw near and hear the words of the Lord your God.”

(Some verses from Joshua chapters 1-5)

I’m guessing that these poor folks would still be scared even after listening to these words.  But surely they would feel a wee bit excited too.  God knew what was going on!  God understood how they felt!  He was telling them to be brave, that He himself was ahead of them and nothing could happen that He himself could not control.


So, today, maybe He hasn’t answered any of our particular questions.  But maybe He has just given us His universal answer – whatever the question.  He is with us.  He goes ahead of us so we never go into unknown territory alone.  Just be true to yourself, always listening to what God is saying, always drawing near to Him and staying near to Him. 

Be strong and courageous for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.



Oh Lord my God when I in awesome wonder consider all ……… 

I thank you Lord.  Amen.

Dorothy Neilson