So, this morning I left (the relative happy-holiday-switch-off feeling) time with friends in Dundee, to head over to Glasgow and try and prepare my mind for getting back into the swing of (quote-end-quote) “real life”.
Except that in exactly three weeks I will be moving to Japan instead of going back to my old-Inverness-based-reality. But let’s get through these next 2 weeks at Bible College before worrying about a little thing like that… 😉
Now, I’m happy to say that before doing the whole hotel-check-in thing, I got to spend a really wonderful morning with the Elim church in Erskine that two friends of mine pastor. I too-briefly worked with this amazing couple a decade ago in Weston, when I was an 18 year old trainee youth worker who didn’t have a scoobies what I was doing… And they are still just as brilliant and beautiful as ever! It was also their youngest son’s dedication service today (Really priviledged to be there for this actually!), and I also got to talk Japan/church/missions/all-that-jazz-that-super-excites-me with my friend’s brother who has been living in Osaka for the last number of years church planting (and as he’s married to a Japanese girl and super fluent in Japanese, it also gives me hope for the future of my language learning!!) And there was cake after the service. So, all-in-all, it was just a great morning to join with this wonderful fellowship in worship and I was super blessed!
Here’s a really beautiful photo of my friends and their stunning family being prayed for… (And please join with me and pray that God really blesses this entire church family in 2014!)
The service this morning covered a few different themes, New Year’s Resolutions, dedication to the Lord, the prophet Samuel… But for me there was a bit of a reflective challenge wrapped up in all of it. Because last year, I made a couple of commitments to God for 2013. I didn’t think of them as ‘New Year’s Resolutions’, but they were promises of consecration that I made to God… Resolutely. For want of a better word. I committed to tithing my time to Him. I committed to writing about that journey. It didn’t seem to make any sense on the surface. It was looking to be a busy year without adding to the mix. But God invited me into it. He took my hand and said that if I gave Him the time, He would be so faithful to use it. And He, in His amazing graciousness, said that as I made those commitments to Him, He would make commitments back. He promised to heal me. He promised to reveal more of Himself. He promised to keep me.
And He was faithful to every single one of His promises… Even when my promises to Him, were in total honesty, faltering and half-hearted-at-points.
But thinking about 2014 is different. It is a very different place for me. I know I want to keep tithing my time. It’s a life principle I recommend to everyone, even if it looks different in different seasons. I know I want to keep writing about it. I know there are far bigger challenges ahead, and far bigger things stirring in my spirit. I know I am praying for more faith and more hope and more love. I know I long to fall more in love with Jesus and grow in community. But I can’t quite articulate all this yet. It doesn’t fit inside a neat, tidy box that I can resolutely put out there. And I am so okay with that. Because I trust Him. But, this morning I was just mulling it all over.
And then the preacher made a point that just resonated with me.
They were talking about when the prophet Samuel first heard from God.
About how Samuel was available.
He gave God time. His response to the Lord was instant. He was available for God to come and interrupt his life. His heart was in it. He was dedicated.
And that struck me.
Because I guess, one of the biggest things that I have always fought against is a life where we just settle for the humdrum of the mundane, and stop expecting God to break in and use us/do stuff/turn things on their heads, in the everyday. We stop being available for God to use. Time slips. Our response gets slower. We don’t like interruptions. Our heart just isn’t in it. Whatever the excuse is.
Lots of my friends are scattered across the world just now and living in different countries. Some are Christians. Some aren’t. Some are missionaries. Some are teachers. Some are researchers. And when I think about moving to Japan, this word ‘available’ sums up some of the personal prayers I am sending up just now. Because I would hate to just move to Japan to just ‘be’ there. To go through the work-church-social-life motions without any real expectation. Just like in the UK, I have never wanted to just ‘be’ here. Going through the work-church-social-life motions without any real expectation. Because I am aware that when I hear from my friends, sometimes there isn’t really a big difference between those who believe in Jesus and those who don’t. And that scares me, because I have always longed for more. I long that Jesus would have all of my life. Completely. So that then He can get glory out of it. That I would be available. Whatever country of the world I am living in. That I wouldn’t ever settle for the comfortable or the safe. But press in to the more.
I guess I come back to the fact that my significance is only found in Jesus and loving Him fully and being faithful to His heart. And figuring that out is my life’s mission and purpose.
So that’s my broad challenge right now. And it’s really no bad thing.
Ok. I’m rambling so I’m going to stop.
It’s now just before 5pm, and I am happily checked in, logged on and in my pyjamas (Or does lounge pants make it sound better than pyjamas? In fact, who remembers that post I once wrote about how Jesus was like lounge pants? Ok. Best forgotten…) I still have a few hours preparation to do before tomorrow morning, and I am contemplating whether I can make it socially acceptable to go and get a take-out Nando’s from next door without getting changed… Maybe not.
Whilst I’m in rambling mode, a couple of other entertaining things happened on my check-in journey…
1. I had a trial run with my entire suitcase/guitar/hand luggage combination, which I can now confirm to all those who doubted… I can definitely carry… Singlehandedly!!
2. The guy staying a couple of rooms along in my hotel saw me carrying my guitar, and began a conversation with, ‘I have my guitar in my room. If you want to jam then just come and knock on room number…’ Mmmm, how do I say this politely? NO! A whole WORLD of no, in fact. And yes, I did double check my room locks… And is locked… And will be locked forevermore… 😉
Love you all. Pray my brain works this week!