By the end of the month, to our immense surprise and disappointment, we had both come to the decision that the call to John Bunyan, Cowley was not God's call. When a sense of unease takes away peace and in prayer awareness grows that something is not right you have to take it seriously. There was no obvious reason why we should decline this gracious generous invitation. We had really wanted to go there. No other church was on the horizon and the practical advantages seemed immense. It seemed an unnecessary risk, yet we knew I had to say no.
I remember going to the deacons' meeting on the evening that I promised my reply. I thought the meeting was at 7:30 pm but in fact they had met since 7:00 p.m. There was silence as I entered the room. I apologized to them that my news would not be positive and shared how waiting the month and praying about the call had led to us saying no. Quietly the secretary, wonderfully called Mr. Hope, thanked me. And I left sad yet convinced that it was the right decision.
As a sidebar when others heard about this they were annoyed. In the college the Dean was particularly aggressive. He said that I have been arrogant in rejecting this church and treated me with hostility right through my last year. Others were puzzled - but then so were we!. I had been so keen and yet in the end had felt guided to withdraw. To many it must have seemed that I had turned my back on glorious possibilities not just of service in Oxford but of developing my academic credentials. This is what I mean by being honest about guidance.
The Area Superintendent who helped settle Regent's student into ministry put my name into the national settlement system and we began the waiting. It was a very strange time.
Friday, July 3, 2020
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