Living Faith

So after a few heavy hints over a few years about doing more and listening to God’s plan and perfect time to become  a vicar – make the change you want to see by being the change – all of which I laughed at and ignored. “Flattered but not interested”  seemed to trip of my tongue quite regularly. None so deaf as those who don’t want to hear.

So while browsing the Diocese web site – admiring improvements in recent years I saw an advert for a  Mindfulness Day. Now this excites me the principle on being at one, in the moment, appreciating the positive. That might be a good use of a Saturday.

Click to book screamed at me on the Eventbrite page. And then I saw the dreaded fully booked sign. 😦

Really…. finally a course I want to do and its fully booked……

So I clicked to see other events in the area. VOCATIONS DAY. Laughing I had a good browse and ignored it. I mean why would I want to go there I don’t want to be a vicar!!!

Then the emails started – informative news letters, Faith magazine all with vocational red flag. That drip feeding of suggestions that God has a habit if doing to catch you unaware. He is not daft!

Then the icing on the cake – the final push – I finally listened.

An email from my Rector with the email from the Diocese suggesting they “encourage” people to attend. His email read…

“Just saying!!!!!”

I gave in. What did I have to lose? What harm could it do? At least people would stop hinting!

OH BOY WAS I WRONG!

Turning up on that Saturday morning I was determined to go in with an open mind to think about everything that was said very carefully commit to nothing.

Anxiously I step through the door expecting the usual restrained C of E greeting.

I was hit with a wall of enthusiasm – a hand pumping smiley welcome. That in its self threw me. I had hoped to  sneak in the back, listen then leave without any serious interaction. But being pounced on by a familiar face dragged over to meet others and engaged in conversation and made to drink exceptional coffee?!?!! Was I in the right place? This was everything I had been saying the church in general was lacking enthusiasm, drive, encouragement.  I clearly wasn’t the only one taken aback but  as the room filled up and the day began I suddenly felt relaxed and as if I might just be in the right place.

I had read about the Living Faith course but hearing a more detailed account it seemed that maybe it was the exact place I needed to be. I mean what harm could it do? It would give me a chance to deepen my faith through scripture, to meet new people and I would be actually doing something for me for a change. As any mother will tell you that’s  a rare thing.

So I signed up. With my Rectors support, even if he did have a twinkle in his eye which seems to say GOT YA!!

 

How did I get here??!!?

 

I have always gone to church.

Even living abroad as a child we were never really “HOME” until we have been to church with our Grandmother. Walking into the familiar building smelling the polish and the flowers. Aged Sunday school teachers telling us how much we had grown, genuinely pleased to see us. It was an anchor, a safe haven, it was home.

During my childhood I didn’t really think much about God, we sang, about him, heard stories of his sons adventures, knew he was to be feared and obeyed but mostly I knew I was loved. That God took me as I am. That he was there to protect me from evil.

Then I discovered David Livingstone.  The story fascinated me. Imagine travelling as far as Africa to spread God’s word. How brave but there was the nagging doubt that maybe the people he visited didn’t want to be told of God? What if he had gone all that way and nobody listened to him?

Bringing this up with my dear, long suffering Aunt she pointed out  that maybe he had gone to talk about the Son of God, Jesus Christ who had walked and lived among us.

The penny dropped and I realised that was what I was missing. I was concentrating on God this great big all consuming power but not really including Jesus in the equation. Doh!!! I hear you groan but it was the 70’s and I was only little.

Living abroad strengthened my faith because I was surrounded in people who believed, had conviction and prayed. BOY did they pray! Shouting from minarets, everything in the Arab way of life included prayer and God, from the greetings to the simple saying Inshalla “God Willing” . Churches where we lived were packed to the rafters often with several services a day and ranged from Catholic, C of E, Missionary Baptists and services could be in a number of different tongues – Tamil, Hindi, Urdu and even English!

But my faith was private one. I knew God held me in his hands and that he was in my heart but it was my God, my faith and unless I was asked a direct question I didn’t try to expand on my faith. If I am honest while I read my bible I struggled with quoting or remembering what came from where and if I spoke out would anyone challenge me? Ask me something I didn’t know the answer to?

So I decided my way of showing my faith  was in serving. Always the first to make the tea, sweep the floor, tidy up after Sunday school that was how I would show my faith after all we are called to love and serve one and other! That was my excuse I stuck to it.

Life moved on and my faith never went away but I never really did anything to help  it grow, I just took it for granted that it was there and I maybe didn’t read my bible enough or pray as much as I should have but that didn’t matter. Or did it?

Then my world collapsed and suddenly I was a single mum going through a divorce hundreds of miles away from my family. My whole approach to church changed. I would bring all my hurt and anger on a Sunday morning and throw it silently at the cross and plead for some understanding, some help and the strength to get through the following week. On occasion I would sob through a sermon, or hymn but I would always leave with the weight gone from my shoulders and strength and joy in my heart to take on the challenges to come that week.

Slowly week on week I let my church family in and took so much strength and support knowing I had people to turn to.

Then the Rector came up with an idea!!!!!!!!!!

Did I think I might like to be a Church Warden?