Sunday, July 12, 2020

Honesty about guidance 9)

Apparently, the Blackburn church had heard several potential ministers preach but the congregation could not come to a decision about any of them.  In their last meeting a member stood up and said: 'What about that young fella who came some weeks ago?  Surprisingly there was enough enthusiasm for the meeting to propose that I return, this time with a squint to the ministry.  And so, Mr. Newell had written inviting me on 30th. January 1972.

Just a day or two later the invitation to become minister of the Northampton church arrived.  When I talk about guidance I often think back to the confusing mixture of emotions we experienced then.  On one hand this Northampton church was generously expressing their commitment to me.  But on the other hand Blackburn still stirred desire which did not have an obvious cause.  It was still only a possibility with plenty of potential hazards.  Yet, in prayer we felt we could not close it off.

With considerable nervousness I spoke to the Northampton church secretary.  I told him the truth that another church that I had not expected to hear from had re-emerged.  When I preached in Northampton I assumed this option was a dead-end - it would have been dishonest to have two-timed.  Yet, now that this other church had reactivated its interest I told him I needed to resolve whether it was God's choice for me.  My memory was that he was very understanding and allowed me to withdraw with good grace.  But we were mightily confused.  I wondered just what a risk we were taking.

Travelling back to Blackburn was serious this time.   I still have notes from the sermons I preached and, frankly, I do not rate them very highly.  The morning sermon on Acts 10:1-16 was entitled 'But Peter said "No".  That could be prophetic!  Still a strong sense remained that we were being drawn to this people though I knew some regarded me as far too young - and I shared that concern too!

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