Only Connect: residential weekend for distintive deacons. 4-6 March, Wydale Hall, Scarborough
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I am sitting in the hospital chapel in the stillness as the shift change takes place on this New Years Eve. A steady, silent, silhouetted procession of staff come and go. Some ending their shift and coming in to light a candle and say a prayer as they leave the hospital and the old year behind and go home to family, friends and a quiet night in or a drink with colleagues. Others starting their night shift, one that will see out the old year and welcome the new. Patients to care for and families and staff to support in the silent hours of the night.
I frequently sit here, in the semi darkness, in the shadows, in this familiar house of prayer, pondering what I do and why. As one year rolls into another, I do so again.
Reflecting at the end of an old year on where God was present in life opens up to new possibilities to adjusting old ways to work better.A new year reminds us that the Holy Spirit is always moving, working and leading us to the next positive step.
We think of him as safe beneath the steeple,
Or cosy in a crib beside the font,
But he is with a million displaced people
On the long road of weariness and want.
But God is at work in and through all our circumstances. Although the frustrations and sometimes the depressions have been many and various, there are unexpected blessings which have come our way, moments when we have become wonderfully aware of God's presence. It is part of the call of distinctive deacons to be 'expectant and watchful for the signs of God's presence', and to have the freedom to respond to those signs, to reflect and adapt.
When we see the flashing lights of a police car behind us, we pull over to the side of the road and await the officer approaching the vehicle to ask for our licence and registration. We comply because we know that the officer has the authority to do that. The officer cannot do that when they are off duty and driving their own car. They can only stop us because of the authority of the badge which they carry. In a similar manner, we carry a badge of authority in prayer because we belong to Jesus. We have his badge, his authority.
Shortly after we moved to our new house, I was driving home one night in the fog. I was going on what were then unfamiliar country roads in the dark. As such, I was not always aware of exactly where I was. Fortunately, I had put my new address into the map app on my phone so I could listen and follow the directions as to where I needed to turn and in which direction I needed to travel.
It is the same way with prayer. On his own, God could do things faster and more efficiently. Instead, he chooses to work with and through us. As we cooperate in prayer, we see the Lord bring transformation to our situations, and we get to grow in our relationship with the Lord. As we come to the Lord in prayer, he inspires us through the Holy Spirit. The Lord will give us discernment and direction for what we need both to pray and to do. As we respond and pray into that guidance, God moves to answer our prayers, and transformation happens. In effect, we pray his Kingdom purposes into reality.
Their prayers were not “Change this bad situation, Lord,” but “Change us, so that we can be effective in this situation!” How many times do we pray, asking the Lord to make things easy for us, instead of praying for the strength, wisdom and empowerment to go through challenging or difficult circumstances?