Trusting God’s direction

A few days ago I went on a short prayer walk with some friends to pray for our local churches, and in particular the youth work within them.

We met at the bottom of a china clay tip near St Austell, walked to the top together then split up for about 20 minutes to walk, wander, pray and listen to God, and we were asked to think about 2 questions… 1) what is God saying to you, and 2) what is God saying to the churches.

I’ll be honest and say often at these sorts of things I’m grappling around trying to discern God’s voice from among my own thoughts, but this time was different. I was immediately certain of hearing God’s voice through what I was seeing around me.

At first I saw a small village, one I’ve travelled through by car many times called Penwithick. It always appears very busy when we travel through, people and cars, and always feels quite a large, long village, yet from up there it seemed quaint and quiet, small and calm.

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What is God saying to me?

As I prepare to move to Birmingham my life has gone from being busy and involved in many things, to stepping back, and in a sense, looking down from above at what is going on. I won’t be involved in the church as much as I have been for a while, and that scares me, because I like to be doing things! But as I stood there, looking down on the village, I was struck by how looking down helped to gain perspective, so in the coming months of study I pray that God will help me to gain perspective from where I am.

What is God saying to the Church?

 

I sensed a challenge from God, as churches we both need to be involved in the communities, and looking down from above seeing the bigger picture, keeping things in perspective. Are our churches too busy and bustling to make real difference, or have they become ‘ghost churches’, somewhat invisible to the communities in which we dwell. What is the bigger picture God wants us to see and be part of? What are we getting right, and what needs to change?

As I turned and walked on I saw a roundabout, one that was only built a few months ago. As with any roundabout, cars were approaching, going around and deciding which junction to come off at.

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What is God saying to me?

In my life, after many months of uncertainty this year has brought clarity and direction, I finally know where I am going and in a week or so will be in our new home ready for study to become a minister. Yet although I know the direction and have clarity, it doesn’t mean life is not without uncertainty! From where the furniture will go in our new flat, to where local shops and services are, let along the challenge of  my wife and I caring for 2 small children, settling into our new home and beginning full time academic and theological training – we still have lots of questions! But The Lord will provide direction and answers in his timing, we simply need to trust – no small task!

What is God saying to the church?

 

Our local churches have gone through a lot of change over the last few years, so of it incredibly sudden and without warning. Suddenly the church has found itself taking a different junction at the roundabout than it thought it would, and in the process feeling like it is circling the roundabout many times before getting anywhere. Yet when we trust God to lead us, whatever junction and direction we are going in, if it is of God we will all be ok!

As I walked on I saw a stagnant clay pool, which was used as part of the process of forming china clay, I’m not sure if this pool is still used or not. It’s grey murky colour, it’s stagnant state did not make it desirable or appealing. Yet almost at the same time I looked up and realised that all around us in almost every direction I faced I could see windmills (unfortunately since coming home I realised that my photo’s don’t show them!).

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What is God saying to me?

For me, my life in the last few years has felt like that pool, stagnant, uncertain of my purpose and use. Yet now in hindsight I know how God’s Spirit was moving as I lived in  my uncertainty and feeling of stagnation. I may have felt stagnant, but God certainly was not.

What is God saying to the church?

 

I was reminded of this passing in John’s Gospel.

The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.

John 3:8, NIVUK

In this passage Jesus is talking to Nicodemus about the importance of being born again of water and Spirit. God’s Holy Spirit is so important in living out our lives and I was struck as I saw those windmills of how God’s Spirit is always at work, whether we recognise it or not; at work whether we receive it or not. As churches and individuals, I think we often try to take control of the situations we are in, rather than letting God’s Spirit take control. If as churches we are able to truly ‘let go and let God’, we will see God’s Spirit moving around us.

One of the people I was prayer walking with shared a picture of fire beacons. Fire burns, and is so often uncontrollable, fire can feel dangerous. So can letting God be in control. But I believe it is the best thing for us in working out God’s direction for our lives as church and as individuals.

I realised time was nearly up on my prayer walk and I needed to get back to the meeting point, I didn’t really know where I was. I started to walk back in what I thought was probably the right direction, but not a path I had ever travelled before. I eventually found myself where I needed to be. We may not know the path, but if we know we are going in God’s direction we will be ok. As I walked, the fairly well know passage from Ecclesiastes 3 came to mind.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,

a time to plant and a time to uproot,

a time to kill and a time to heal,

a time to tear down and a time to build,

a time to weep and a time to laugh,

a time to mourn and a time to dance,

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,

a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

a time to search and a time to give up,

a time to keep and a time to throw away,

a time to tear and a time to mend,

a time to be silent and a time to speak,

a time to love and a time to hate,

a time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, NIVUK

Trust God, trust his direction, it is always going to be right and in God’s perfect timing.

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