A farewell from Colleagues?
Covid restrictions made any work farewell meeting impossible. Nonetheless, this week I received a book from colleagues with testimonies from many people describing how my role had affected them. It felt like I was reading about somebody else even when the context of the message was so familiar.
When a member of my family read them, she said, “If I have just one or two letters like this when I leave, I will be humbled and amazed…” My reply to her email, “In all honesty I am benefitting from people writing to me following an accident. It’s reinforced my view that we really ought to tell people these sorts of things regularly and before it’s the end of something.”
Sometimes we miss things that are said, and social etiquette can be inhibiting. But for me the timing was perfect. I have recently stopped taking a prescribed anti-depressant and in my stabilising emotional condition, I have been really encouraged by these comments. I have renewed confidence to continue to recover. I have been reminded of the power of simple, calm and often quiet support.
God has been good to me but sometimes I don’t recognise this until much later. I need to listen better.
Since my injury and lost vocation, I have often thought, “I just want to do what God wants me to do, it’s the only safe place, I just wish he’d tell me.”
A friend told me that he has, on occasion, heard actual words he started to realise were from God. Surely, we’d know if God was speaking immediately. But then, “The LORD called Samuel a third time, and Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, Here I am; you called me. Then Eli realised that the LORD was calling the boy.” (1 Samuel 3:8)
God is also there in our desperation.
“After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:12-13) A famous still small voice.
In post-accident depression I have repeatedly needed to be on my own. I’ve never heard a voice like that. Why won’t he talk to me? I’d love to be able to say I have heard words from God call me back from my cave of depression. How then do we hear from God? Will we, should we, all hear in the same way? I am no theologian and my current thinking might seem basic and obvious but it’s where I am now…
Time to read God’s word has been magnificent. It’s not just a book full of the super spiritual with whom I can’t connect. Its full of real people with struggles just like mine. This revelation has changed my approach and dramatically connected God’s grace and love to my situation. Psalms is not a book to avoid.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16)
God was here in Jesus, actually talking with words, but it is good that he has gone -we now have his councillor. The famous John 16:7 feels so real. “But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counsellor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” (John 16:7)
We talk of being moved by the spirit. An improved relationship with God enables us to know and feel his direction so much better. Can’t we just make things up and mistake human thinking as the Spirit moving our hearts. I think we can. But that does not mean it’s not Him guiding our thinking when it’s in line with God’s word in the Bible -always part of my self-test. This is especially true of the prophetic,
“Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good.” 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21
In terms of this form of communication, my move has been toward relationship and awareness of His presence.
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27)
He is here with us. Liturgy can express things far better than me, but it’s not always coming heartfelt and genuine from me at that moment. It’s not just about finding time, special moments or routines either, it’s being open to his calm presence during the ongoing business of life.
I’ve also learned that I should not forget praise in prayer. Of course, God knows who He is and what he’s done but this praise also helps put our prayer in a better God-Man perspective. It can be a joyous way of remembering His goodness in our lives and how great that He is here with us, even in tough times.
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
I have already expressed the importance of family whilst battling post-accident and even quoted from one of my family earlier. The enormous family of God can be very connecting.
“For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisers make victory sure.” (Proverbs 11:14)
Through Lectio 365 I have been reminded of many historically significant people who have, from often challenging starting points, been so clearly part of God’s will even if at their own expense.
God has always been with us. We are the ones who have moved despite our social etiquette.
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)
Many currently trending approaches such as mindfulness have been part of Gods connected family for years, even if under a different name. Don’t get me wrong, I have not cracked all this practically, theologically, or emotionally, but I have begun to find a new and very real peace.
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” (Colossians 3:15)
We can hear from God in many ways, we are all different people. We “just” need to be aware of His presence and connect.