All posts by danbalsdon

Christian. Methodist Minister (Presbyter) serving in the Bognor Regis area, South East, UK. Husband, Father of 2. Book hoarder. Wanna-be chef. Heart for living in community and for seeing the presence and activity of God in day to day life.

Finding my voice

It’s a long time since I last wrote or posted anything here, on what is meant to be a place where I intended to share something of my journey as I undergo formation for presbyteral ministry. It would be easy to say I’ve been too busy studying at college to have time to write, and while that would be true in part, it isn’t the whole story.

The truth is that I lost my voice. No, not literally, but spiritually, theologically, personally. Many times I’ve desired to post, but I have lacked inspiration and conviction to know what to write. I’ve struggled writing sermons too.

Among the cacophony of voices in the multitude of books, articles and writings from the centuries of Christian tradition, along with the wonderful voices of those I am learning and journeying alongside and being taught by, I’ve lost my voice, my confidence and conviction. I’ve been left feeling that so many other people say things so much more beautifully than I believe I ever can, what can I say? What use is there me adding my little, inexperienced voice to this cacophony, won’t I just muddy the waters?

But in the last few weeks I’ve begun to feel different; as if the tide has been changing. Having finished our second term I’ve been on what has felt like an essay marathon, but as I’ve approached the end I’ve come to realise I have a voice, a voice God has given me and I need to use it, and to make space to use it.

Holy Week this year has so far been very different to the past few years. I’ve not been selling Easter eggs and cards as I have since I left college, and nor have I been busy in church life, previously either preaching, organising or stewarding for various events This year I’m at Queens in the midst of the Easter holidays, at the tail end of my essay marathon without anything to specifically ‘do’ this Easter.

But that has been a wonderful thing, because not doing has meant I could ‘be’. While there are no lectures and few people on site at Queens, a part-time group have been here for ‘Easter School’ and I’ve taken the opportunity to join them for worship on a number of occasions, and I’ve benefitted from dipping into some of their services as holy week has progressed. Today I joined the Easter School’s ‘hour at the cross’, which consisted of a collection of readings, mediations music, prayer and silence which lead us through an hour of reflection. As I sat in the stillness I sensed the Lord speaking to me, reminding me that he called me, for who I am, made in his image, and that includes my voice.

So while I still struggle to know what to say and feel my voice isn’t as good as others, I know that that isn’t how God sees me, that I need to overcome my feelings of unworthiness and rediscover my God given voice, because he’s called me for being all that I am.

I hope sharing where I am in my journey at the moment will help and encourage others of you too. And hopefully…as I find my voice…I won’t be so quite on here any longer…

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. Continue reading Trusting God’s direction

Nothing can Separate

I remember a time about 3 or 4 years ago when I had a great feeling of what I now describe as loneliness. I felt distant from God and other people and while I was incredibly busy do many things, much of what I was doing felt somewhat empty. Coupled with a great uncertainty about the future of my life I was not in a great place spiritually or emotionally.

I’d been running SACREdplace, the Christian Bookshop in St Austell for 2 or 3 years and while it had been a dream come true to have that job, finances in particular were struggling and the pressure was taking it’s toll on me.

Looking back, it was around that time that deep down I began to realise that God was going to call me to leave the shop and on to pastures new, but while I say I began to realise it, it was so deep down I couldn’t grasp hold of it. I was still feeling lost. I remember daily on my walk to work passing same azalea rain or shine and praying, ‘Where are you Lord, I can’t feel you. I feel like a fool. I feel false when I preach and lead things, I feel incomplete, un-holy.’

One day I was sat at my desk, those similar thoughts and prayers going around my mind and for a moment I looked up and took notice of the picture frame that sat on my office window. A number of years before I had design a number of Bible texted pictures and this was one of them, quoting Romans 8:39 (below). As I read those words a new sense of peace came over me. It was a verse I saw almost daily, yet didn’t truly see until now. The struggles and feelings of loneliness didn’t disappear, but I did feel a renewed strength to deal with them, knowing however I feel, nothing can separate me from God’s love.

Romans 8v39.jpg

I’ve been thinking about that this week because a friend gave me these verses only a few days ago, reminding me of the picture…

38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39, NIV UK

Reading those verses again it’s been a reminder of just how far God has lead me over these few short years. As I and my family prepare to move to Birmingham and I begin training for full time ministry there are so many things to think about, organise, work out and at times worry about. But in and through it all, I am comforted and strengthened in the knowledge that nothing can separate me and my family from the love of God.

I hope you can be strengthened and comforted by that too.