So I've been thinking a lot about this coming year (I mean in the academic sense, from September). I have chosen to take a year before I start my ordination training for various reasons, one of which being that there are several things I would like to do before I get on the band wagon of training/curacy etc. I have written about this here, but I have been giving it a lot more thought and prayer recently. September suddenly seems really close and there is nothing concrete in the diary yet. On top of which my church has offered me a part time post from September which will take up a significant amount of my time. (and this is a total answer to prayer!!)
I think the key to all of the things on my previous list is my desire to experience more of God. Not in “an experience” kind of way, but in a daily, real, I want more of God in my life, kind of way. I guess part of that is that I worry once I have started training I won’t have the time to devote to prayer and seeking God that I do now, and I want to really get that cemented in my life in a way I can take forward into ministry life. But then I realise that is also rather naive, as I know this is a journey that will continue to the end of my earthly life and be evolving all the time, especially I would imagine once in ordained ministry.
So on my list I had (among other things) these:
1: Visit somewhere the Holy Spirit is really moving (and I mean really... hugely, massively, undeniably)
5: Be a bit (more) crazy for God, spend time getting out there, praying for people, in Tesco, in the street, in the dentists... spreading some crazy love!
And the more I pray about this, whilst it would be amazing to go off to India or Africa, or go spend some time with Heidi Baker, in reality, number 5 could actually bring about no.1! So it’s about my heart attitude. Going off to some far flung corner of the world I have been seeing as the hard bit, but actually I now think it’s the easy bit! How easy to raise some money, head off to the middle of nowhere where the spirit is already moving. Much harder would be to step out in my daily life, in every opportunity I see, in every chance God gives me to be Christ to those around me... I preached last week on Nicodemus and encountering God and I said this:
And we can encounter him every day. Not just the first time when we give our lives, but every day if we want to, in the opportunities he gives us, in reading his word, in others around us, its all there for us. That’s what I want, what I seek, not just an experience, a one off encounter, but a daily truth, a daily meeting with my King that informs my whole life.
So the truth is, if I want that, I have to step out, to risk rejection and ridicule, but also in that risk, be completely open to God using me for his kingdom. The times I have done that I have been so blessed and amazed by Gods faithfulness and His ability to use us wherever we are. And if I am going to do that I want to be accountable. In reality it’s what we should all do, daily – be available and ready for God to use us – in whatever way, and that will be different for each of us. But then I can easily not do that, because right now, I am shying away from it. I described this feeling a while back as being like someone pressed the pause button (then I realised it was me holding it down). After the feelings of anger and disappointment in the aftermath of our friends death a few months back, that’s what it felt like, like I was on pause, like I couldn’t or didn’t want to really allow God to use me, for fear of being hurt or disappointed again
So it’s really time to unpause that button and click play. And I need to be accountable about that, because it is going to be really hard. I feel the reluctance in me. Not a reluctance to come to God, but a reluctance to step out in faith and believe again for miracles. I still believe in a God of miracles and I am still so hungry for him, but there is still this underlying ‘something’ holding me back.
So now, for the next couple of weeks – until September starts ( I know I could start right now, but it’s kind of comforting to have a date to plan for!) – I am going to pray about what that looks like for me – how am I going to encounter God daily and enable others to encounter him too...