So, I’ve now officially started my sabbatical and ‘ups & downs’ sums up well life over the last few days… on all levels!!
Sunday was certainly ‘ups & downs’! We started off in the morning heading over to Kings Arms Church and what a fabulous morning. Great worship, led by a band who are to lead worship at the Catalyst festival , some great encouragement to faith with news of what God has been doing, encouragement to enter into intercessory prayer together, honest appeal on the financial front with clear vision for use of the finances, and then a great preach from Paul Johnson, which was spot on with some of the things we have been facing as a church – definitely want to be back for part 2 with Simon Holley next Sunday!
From there it was off to see Bedford Blues v Bristol in part 1 of the Championship semi-final.
The first half was excellent with good running rugby from both sides, and Bedford even holding their own and winning at the scrum. We went in behind at half time, but going down the slope and with a following wind I genuinely felt we were in with a shout for the second half…. how wrong I was…. Bristol outplayed us well and good… and once we began to bring on replacements our form just got weaker… we got well and truly beaten at the scrum… and in pretty much every other way…. Headed home a bit disappointed, but also with a sore foot and the plantar fascia pain returning… a product of the run on Saturday… or just the result of being on my feet for most of the day?? Treatment with the oscillating massager brought some relief! Any bizarre thoughts I had been carrying about attempting Milton Keynes marathon without any training on Monday, were soon removed! Instead Julie and me enjoyed going over and supporting a few friends who were competing and who all seemed to do brilliantly.
Some nights I have been sleeping well, other nights not so well… Several times I have been awake around 4 and struggled to get back to sleep. Mind not buzzing with work stuff (fortunately!) but finding other stuff whether it’s sabbatical or sport to mull over… really do need to switch off!!
Then there was the visit to the dentist…. having broken a tooth last week… not much of it left… so looks like it’ll be a long job of root canal work, building a tower and fitting a crown… but no time slot till a month’s time… so got to take care not to get stuff lodged in the remnants and bringing on an infection… Tuesday was my first ‘proper’ day of sabbatical – a day when I would have been doing other things… having a meeting of the apostolic team in the morning and an elders’ meeting in the evening…. Not being at them felt difficult, and I felt low as a result… For years having been ‘on my own’ as far as full-time ministry was concerned, being a part of a team has been a delight since the start of the year, and I’ve come to value the other team members highly over the past months. Being away from them, and indeed from others in the church does give a feeling of loss. My role is not only a job, it’s a calling, and the people I work with are my brothers and sisters and friends whom I love… so being away from them, whilst being at home is difficult…. Driving through town yesterday morning I saw a couple of folk from the church on different occasions and couldn’t help but wonder how they were doing and begin to pray for them… The thought crossed my mind that the only way to truly switch off would be to be away from Bedford, but that’s complicated with the care of our birds… particularly with young chicks in the nest and hungry parents feeding them…
In my time with God this morning I journalled all about my feelings in relation to the above and more, writing my prayers, concerns, complaints, fears… and then I turned to my scripture reading and turned to a book I have been reading by Andrew Wilson
– it was just what I needed.
Based around verses from Romans 11:
33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgements,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
34 ‘Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counsellor?’
35 ‘Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay them?’
36 For from him and through him and for him are all things.
To him be the glory for ever! Amen.
Andrew Wilson quotes John Piper: ‘Paul says God’s knowledge is unfathomably deep, he knows all recorded facts – all the facts stored in all the computers and all the books in all the libraries in the world. But vastly more than that, he knows all the events at the macro level – all that happens on earth and in the atmosphere and in all the furthest reaches of space in every galaxy and star and planet. And all the events at micro level – all that happens in molecules and atoms and electrons and protons and neutrons and quarks. he knows all their movement and every location and every condition of every particle of the universe at every nanosecond of time…. When one event happens, he not only sees it, but he sees the eternal chain of effects that flow from it and from all the billions of events that are unleashed by every other event. He knows all this without the slightest strain on his mind. That is what it means to be God!’
And so, he knows all about my sabbatical and I can trust him with it, even though there is so much that doesn’t ‘fit’ with my expectations for this sabbatical.
‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to him and he will direct your paths.’ Proverbs 3:5,6
Lord, I willingly submit myself again to your will for my life; I acknowledge you as Lord and say I will trust you, even when I don’t understand, when I don’t have all the knowledge, because I know that you do. Thank you for this reminder from Piper at this time.
Psalm 139:1-4 ‘You have searched me Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all of my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.’
lol – Even before I started to think all this and write it down, you knew that you were going to meet me at my point of need with your reassurance in what I was going to find myself reading. David, when he continued writing was spot on, v6
‘Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.’
Two more quotes from Andrew Wilson which I couldn’t help tweeting earlier:
‘God not only knows all things that happen, but he knows all things which would have happened under different circumstances. He knows all possible outcomes from every situation.’ #reassuringwordsatthistime
‘God knows all past, present and future events, all thoughts and all possibilities. Oh the depth of the riches and the wisdom and the knowledge of God!’