Friday, May 20, 2022

Just one more reflection

Forgive a further (last) post.  But, after all, 50 years doesn't come round often. My ordination was a heady time. We were expecting our first child, final Oxford exams were close, soon we would move to my first church at Blackburn but, most demanding of all, were the vows, laying on of hands and public declaration that this was it!  I was giving myself (and my family) to all the unknowns about our future life together for God's sake.  

  • Extraordinary grace - only by God's gifts of love and strength can any of the story be told. Year after year he has kept us going - through serious illnesses, church difficulties, family life and the constant demands of Christian leadership.
  • Unnerving unknowns. Thrust into all those expectations in my first church when we were also setting out in parenthood, not knowing how I/we could cope.  Praying for strength and wisdom far beyond our years.  And that continued to be the story of need throughout 50 years. 
  • Out of control.  Unusually, not one of the moves we made in ministry was sought! Always they were initiated by others....sometimes against my preference.  Blackburn approached me because a previous minister had a vision that 'I was the man'.  Next, Cambridge approached me 2 years before I said convinced was I that it wasn't for me.  Spurgeon's then approached me - the strangest call of all. Utterly beyond my radar!  Lastly, Chicago seminary approached me - a delegation whom I did not know challenged me in Dresden. We knew nothing of the situation and yet had to leave all the family and pick up fresh responsibilities in a very different culture.  Fancy having a life where you don't direct any moves!  
  • Solid partnership.  Among the recent list of 14 surprising facts about pastors ( no.4 reads: 'Our families feel the weight of our calling more than they will ever tell you.'  That's true, and none of the journey would have been possible without Carol's total commitment in co-service.  I could fill a few posts on this.
  • Prayer power.   Among friends along the way, I know we owe huge gratitude for the untold prayers of those prayer warriors who upheld us and our ministries.  We shall never know how much the God-happenings were due to their diligence and sacrifice. 

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