Tag Archives: journey

If I Could Walk Away From Jesus!

As we near Holy Week, and all that means for the Christian community, I wonder if might share with you one more story about my personal discipleship. As I have journeyed with Jesus these past 25 years. I have often wondered if the grass is greener on the otherside, if this life of faith is truly worth it?

Is the self denial and sacrifice of so called holy living all really necessary? As I strive to live towards a calling of loving your neighbour as myself and loving God with equal measure.  I wondered from time to time what I would look like as a non-Christian. Whether indeed life would be ‘better’ and more easy! Perhaps I would have less hangups, perhaps also I would be less bothered about other people, and more bothered about what I can get out of life, rather than give and invest in other peoples lives.

There is a story I tell, from the pulpit of a stonecutter, there are probably many variations of this story but here is the one I tell. There is a man who cut stone for a living, he is a stonecutter. He delivers some stone one day to a mansion, he looks at the vast house, and wishes to live there, and if by magic a big voice from heaven says “let it be so.” And so the stonecutter wakes up in a luxurious mansion, with people to wait on his every need. One day the stonecutter is driving in his limousine, the sunshine through the window causing him to squint and is not be able to see the way ahead. He realises that the sun is very powerful, and wishes to be the sun. And a voice from heaven declares “let it to be so.” The stonecutter becomes the sun and shines in all his brilliance warming the earth below and casting light throughout the Galaxy. He notices however that no matter how hard he tries he cannot break through cloud, and so the stonecutter wishes to be a cloud! A big voice from heaven declares “let it be so.” And so the stonecutter becomes a cloud, this seemed a good idea first and then he realised he was being pushed around by the wind. He quickly wished to be the wind. And a big voice from heaven declared. “let it be so.”

As the wind the stonecutter had quite a lot of fun, blowing over houses and people, twirling leaves in the street, blowing snow into huge drifts taller than houses, churning up a rough seas of gigantic waves. The stonecutter thought it was brilliant being the wind he’d found something he loved, however whilst he was the wind he was blowing one day against rock, and no matter how hard he blew the rock would never move. It wouldn’t budge an inch. In a very annoyed voice the stonecutter pronounced I wish I could be a rock. And as a rock he proudly looked out across the valley, as people came and went, as climbers climbed up his face, as couples grew old and children grew up. It was a contented experience he felt at peace. Until one day, he heard a Chipping noise and he noticed a man with a small hammer and chisel, digging into his stonework. There’s nothing he could do, except to say, I wish I could be a stonecutter!

No matter how the stonecutter longed to be something else, he ended up being the person he was meant to be. He took a long journey, to real self-discovery. Regardless of how grumpy I get with God, or temporarily want to walk away. I come back to the truthful reality of my self-discovery, and that I am a believer, I am a christian, no matter where are I am, or where I might end up. I belong to Jesus and it’s him I follow.

May your personal discovery of who you are, not cost you too much, or be too painful. But as you journey remember you are made in the image of the living God, who knows you and loves you.

God Bless and God Speed

Fertility Tips For Churches!

In a doctors waiting room John and Mary sit nervously, anxious for the news of their fertility tests, they longed for answers to their questions and fears. In a church nearby, a pastor sits looking across the empty pews in his church, he wonders what he needs to do to fill them. Two separate but emotionally charged scenes, each with hopes and fears about the future one for a baby and another for disciples.

The churches I look after, like so many, currently have a fertility issue when it comes to making disciples, it’s the singular issue that is paralysing our future, and we need help.

A couples fertility Journey begins in denial and ends with acceptance whether that is acceptance of a life with or without children. Whatever the Journey John and Mary take there will be an array of options such as IVF, various drugs, adoption or choosing to remain childless. This sort of journey is one not dissimilar that our churches might take.

I don’t think for many of Gods people we can deny our reality it’s plain to see for many of us, and it’s heart breaking and painful. This kind of reality check, can tear at the fabric of a congregation just as much as it tears at the heart of a couples relationship.

So what are the churches’ options? Recognising that there is a problem is a start, look at what others are doing well, research the local context, resist jumping on the christian idea bandwagon, listen to God, the community and the church. See how fresh expressions work might help you. There are so many options and possibilities but it can be hard to know whats right for your context.

Take your time, did you know that an adoption agency will not even consider your application earlier than one year after an infertility diagnosis. Rightly so in my opinion, social services recognise that there is work to be done, a journey to be had and acceptance and letting go of what was and peace to be held onto as they move ahead.

Just as much as John and Mary need to figure out what is right for them, the individual church needs to figure out and come to terms the right way ahead for themselves. Of course for John and Mary there is an alternate decision just as difficult and brave, that is to decide to call time on there journey and make a life without children.

For some of our churches it’s time, to sit and weep with them, to listen to their hearts breaking and invite them to move on to create a new life for themselves, because collectively they can’t make disciples for some reason. This is such a magnificently brave decision for a congregation to make. It might be that for those individuals they start at another church that is fertile and their hopes are realised in a different way as they are adopted by that church family.

The church is not dead we just have a little bit of infertility, and infertility is not the end of the story it never is, it is perhaps the beginning of a fight or a new life, it is the point of acceptance we move beyond, to the new thing God is calling us too, the bright future, the hopeful one, the one shaped not as we might have imagined, but reshaped in Gods design for us as his people.

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