Monday, April 30, 2012

Two personal dates - et teneo et teneor

Just recently my blog has been more personal than normal - for obvious reasons perhaps!  Now this month of May brings two significant dates.
On May 3rd. I hear from my surgeon whether the cancer has spread.  It has been three months since surgery and his post-operative comments were encouraging.  But the weeks of waiting have brought vicissitudes (I like that word) of mood.  Some days way UP with a huge bounce of positive spirit, often prompted by friends and by gathered worship (especially at Easter).   Other days DOWN with dispiriting tiredness.  Of course, this comes with the territory of waiting.  It is an inevitable part of our journey, and Scripture emphasizes this by its many narratives of waiting for God's promises to mature.  Thank you for your encouragement over these months' waiting, and I shall let you know as soon as I hear. Actually, some have asked me to ensure that Carol writes the posting!

On May 21st. I celebrate the 40th anniversary of my ordination into the Baptist Ministry in West Norwood London.  I still have a copy of that service sheet with its black and white photograph of me on the front, earnestly peering through thick-rimmed Buddy Holly specs.  At anniversaries we customarily reflect on how rapidly time has passed (and doesn't it just?) and how much has happened.  Sometimes we marvel with genuine astonishment that any of it happened at all!  I really feel like that! Carol and I had absolutely no idea what ministry might mean.  When I say 'no idea' I do not exaggerate.  From the first pastorate in Blackburn which was entirely 'out of the box' in many ways, to ministry in Cambridge that taught me so much, to Principalship at Spurgeon's (how on earth did that happen?), to academic life in the USA (how bizarre)!  But, looking back, every step has been guided by our triune God.  I know (too well) my mistakes and disobedience along the way yet, in spite of that, God has held us both in his gracious plans right through.

I have a little wooden cross given me by Spurgeon's College which is designed to be held with a prayer guide.  It is based upon the college motto, chosen by C.H. Spurgeon - Et teneo et teneor - I both hold and am held.  One of Spurgeon's prayers reads:
I commit myself to you, O faithful Creator;
To your keeping, O Saviour of the pierced hand,
To your keeping, O eternal Spirit who is able to keep me from falling and to make me holy. Amen.

That's a great prayer for both these May dates!

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