Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Honesty about guidance 5)

The next big crunch for guidance was obviously going to be which church was God calling me to as I completed my ministerial training.  At the beginning of my three year course I had been placed in a    local Oxford church - John Bunyan Baptist Church, Cowley.  I was to serve alongside its minister Sidney Crowe.  Its striking contemporary building could seat 300 people and average congregations more than half filled it with all ages represented. It was a wonderful opportunity to grow in preaching, lead the youth work and immerse in local church life. However, in my first year the minister, Sidney Crowe, announced that after 31 years serving this church he was shortly to retire.  Supported by another ministerial student I was then invited to care for the church until a new minister was found.

As we approached our final year in college something happened that taught us both important lessons. Out of the blue the John Bunyan Church gave me an invitation to become their next minister.  We were both absolutely thrilled.  The church leadership declared that we could move immediately into the church manse for my last year at college and that they would not expect full ministry until my Final exams were over.  Several commented how this would enable me to keep in touch with the college and some thought doctoral work would be part of the future deal.  Just imagine - a new home with a people we had grown to love and the prospect of developing my academics for wider service.  It seemed just perfect.  Expecting our first baby in July we would be well settled instead of facing a move elsewhere.

We asked for a month to think and pray about this golden opportunity.  We had not a single negative thought and were fairly sure that God was in it all.  How could he not be?   Yet we were concerned about presuming this neat next step was truly God's guidance. That month of prayer and questioning woke us up to the extraordinary dynamics of seeking God's will.

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