I’ve written to the Bishop.
I’ve signed some legal paper work and made the announcements to the Churches.
It was really tough.
Yet, I do feel it is the right choice.
Yet like many right choices it’s often the harder path.
I don’t have another job to go to, although with some inheritance we might be able to get a home of our own (which is both scary and exciting but in a different way).
This has been something I have really prayed over, probably one of (if not the hardest) choices I’ve made in my Christian life.
A picture I have had as I have prayed into this is that the coach and the manager often have a better view of the game than the players, and although I do want to play the full 90 minutes, often it has been that choice to swap players in the final minutes of the game that has transformed the game itself. As a Man U supporter when Fergie (the manager) pulled off some great player (can’t remember who) and brought Solscar on the pitch as fresh legs that changed the whole game. Sometimes, trusting that the coach knows both the game and you better than you, is a tough lesson to learn, but victories are won by trusting the coach/manager. In fact here locally, George whitefield was doing a great job with the Kingswood Miners -no one else in the country was as good at reaching miners that whitefield- and yet he felt God call him to the America’s and that is when God called John Wesley and the nation was changed and transformed. The greatest fruit comes from obedience, if whitefield had stayed the Christian world would have been so much poorer.
Yet, ultimately it is a step of faith knowing that the one who calls us is faithful. This faithfulness is not just to the place and people we serve, but too us personally as his children. I have recently been so challenged to see my identity not just as his servant, a worker for God, but as his child, his son, beloved by my Father.
Scary too, to re-discover the disciple beneath the dog collar.
Realise afresh the vital calling of being a good husband, good dad, good son, good friend all role and callings I have at times sacrificed on the altar of ministry. Ironic as a bitter old vicars kid, I swore I’d never do that, but amazing how easily we can fall into the old familiar traps!
I am very worried about leaving people in Church the lurch -especially people I have come to love- and I hate letting them down, I think for some of us as Christians ‘guilt’ and ‘duty’ can be a real driver, and although it is good to be conscientious, sometimes this can over-swing.
Yet trusting that actually the mission of God is his mission and not ours. Someone once said that “it’s not the Church that has the mission of God, but rather the missionary God who has a Church”, ultimately the people in our care are his too and “he will be there shepherd”.
Sometimes we have to learn the lesson that we are not indispensable and actually much of discipleship is actually about surrendering. Yet we are surrendering to the lover of our souls, the God who loves us and cares for us, the God who has our best interests at heart. In surrender we find freedom and fulfilment, it is tough, surrender is not easy, but in doing so we trust God to be God, and his faithfulness.
To often when we take a step of faith, we want to know the end from the beginning and to see the safety net clearly. Yet in my experience God’s faithfulness often kicks in, after and not before we take that step.
Reminded of Noah who we reckon might have been in the boat for about 7 days, or the widow sharing her bread with Elijah (using it all up and finding it didn’t run out) or Peter stepping out of the boat to walk on water. Faith came first and God’s faithfulness followed.
As we take that step of faith, I am reminded by some of the stuff the Bible says about 3rd days. It was the third days happen loads in the Bible, 3rd day the wine ran out, 3rd day Lazarus was raised and obviously 3rd day Jesus rose from the dead. As I thought about this, often we make the choice, we have that terrible “Holy Saturday” moment of pain and anxiety before we have the Easter Sunday time of God coming through, sometimes these Holy Saturdays last a while and others are relatively short, yet no matter what God is faithful (even when it doesn’t always look like we think it should).
Sometimes the reason why faith is faith is because it doesn’t always make logical sense to us, but I believe that one day from the perspective of eternity everything will make sense, and God’s plan is the plan that makes perfect sense.
Our last day (and last Sunday) is 1st October, the day after the 10th anniversary of my ‘priesting’ (or more accurately “ordination as a presbyter” -but that’s a whole different blog about why “priest” isn’t the right name for Vicars!)
It has been a journey both with some wonderful highs and some huge lows, sorrows and joys.
I have been honest in other blog about having depression and going to counselling, and now in stepping down, and my hope is that other people will know afresh that God copes with our brokenness and is faithful, and obedience in laying things down is okay because we are loved and he is good, gracious and kind, we don’t have to prove anything to God just keep listening for the coach, the coach that knows us and the game better and we can trust him.