Thursday, 5 July 2012

Family Planning!

No not the sort you’re thinking of! Instead I’m thinking of the logistical nightmare which is our family diary at the moment. 

Ever since our children started school we realised that the last weeks of each term, be they Christmas, Easter or Summer, are always chock-a-block with wonderful, worthwhile yet time-consuming and routine-busting additions.  We love the plays, concerts and parties but they cause havoc with the diary.  We thought that as our children got older these delights would slim down – how wrong we were!  The addition of School Proms, School Play, School Concerts, an over-seas orchestra tour and Grade VIII music exam have this year blown any idea of a quiet end of term out of the water! 

Don’t get me wrong – it’s all good fun and we try to enjoy all these occasions and are very grateful for the inspiration and experiences they offer.

Spiritually speaking I often long to inhabit the routine, predictable and comfortable.  It’s in these rose- tinted contexts that I expect to find God.  Yet however much we cling to that delusion I suspect we all know life just isn’t like that.  God meets us ‘outside the box’ and has a habit of revealing himself in the A.O.B section of our carefully planned agendas.

Many years ago when I was a young minister (!) the Baptist Area Superintendent came to our church to talk about ministry.  I forget his actual words but the essence of his wise reflections that evening was that ministry is all about dealing with crisis. He believed we rarely spend long dealing with the routine and predictable – no, our regular, even ‘normal’ challenge is how do we find God, follow him and represent him in a crisis.  Discuss!

Well all of us probably identify with such an understanding of life – and today, to varying degrees, we will have interruptions to our routines, threats to our expectations and disappointments to our hopes – the challenge is: how do we meet these moments?  It’s all too common to think God is absent from our difficulties yet ever present in our joys.  To think like that is to just about ignore every bible story we have ever read!

He is the God who sat alongside his people by the waters of Babylon and wept, he is the Christ who felt the pain of two sisters grieving a brother’s loss, he is the Spirit singing with Paul and Silas in a prison cell.

He is the God who is to be known to you and me when our routines are interrupted and our plans are dashed.  Perhaps, even, never known more than at times like that.

With best wishes,


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