02 February 2009

From the Evangelist’s Desk

‘The Long and Winding Road.’
Don’t you sometimes feel that our journey in faith can be likened to the Beatles song ‘The Long and Winding Road’? I know that I do. I see the next goal God has set before me and I travel towards that goal and I on occasions do not seem to cover much ground at all. The goal looks as though it has moved to the left of me and on other times it looks like it has moved to the right. But I know that the goal that God has set me has not moved at all. It is still there where he placed it, in sight and within reach. But I am the one who has moved from the path and been side tracked into other areas.
God tries to encourage us to move onto the next goal that He has set for us to mature and sometimes challenge our faith, but He will never ask us to cope with anything that He knows is beyond our reach, or ability.
The path that I am following at the moment seems a long one. I will explain. I thought about becoming a Priest some 12 years ago, and someone close to me suggested that I would make a better pub landlord, because I could run a business and help the ‘Punters’ at the same time.
I then was drawn back to investigating again the calling of God to become a Priest. This time Bishop Rowan Williams said that he would gladly recommend me for progression, but asked that I first thought of possibly signing up for the first Evangelist course that was to take place later that year. I was interviewed and progressed through the selection process and then studied for three years on a Church Army course.
It was then suggested to me that I maybe investigate a vocation with the Church Army. I followed this avenue of thought, as it was suggested by a Church Army Officer and confirmed by a Priest and a few members of the congregation who attended church at that time. After various interviews with Church Army and other parties, it was agreed that I could progress to the selection panel with the view of acceptance and training. After a lot of time spent praying and asking God for His guidance, I decided not to take this route any further.
As you are all undoubtedly aware I have for the past year been investigating with the church my feelings of being called to ministry as a Non Stipend Minister.  Therefore the goal that God set before me all those years ago have not changed. It is just that I have strayed and wandered from the path that He set before me.
Now let us take a look at two passages taken from the Bible that jumped out at me and that I feel point to the errors of my way, where I have spent many years wondering, wandering and meandering.  Hopefully we can learn from these passages and travel the Straight Path set before us by God.

Isaiah 40:4 (New International Version)
 Every valley shall be raised up,
 every mountain and hill made low;
 the rough ground shall become level,
 the rugged places a plain.

John 1:23 (New International Version)
John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’”
Isaiah 40:4 looks like I have been given the chance to travel a straight and even plain to God. So why do I still insist on taking my spade to dig the valleys back out, to help create the hills and mountains? Why do I always feel that the simplest way is never the best? Maybe it is just human nature. To me the verse reads that God is willing to flatten out all obstacles in my way, and as fast as He flattens out the path, I start digging with gusto to try and create the valleys, big hills and mountains. How does that saying go? ‘Don’t make mountains out of mole hills’. Well by the looks God has even levelled the mole hills for me. So why do I try and make it more complicated than it actually is? Human nature I suppose.
‘Make straight the way for the Lord’. I believe that Christians around the first century were called people of the ‘Way’. If I am a person of the ‘Way’, why do I find it so difficult to travel the straight line to all that Christ offers?  Again I believe that this verse is stating that the way to the Lord is straight. Well my ‘Way’ is as straight as a young tree bending in a force 10 gale. What about you? Do you manage to keep on the straight and narrow?
My closing thought: I am going to try and leave my spade and JCB at home next time the Lord sets a goal for me. I am going to refer to my Eternity Map and see where the Lord is leading. I will try my hardest to walk the walk, without trying to add to the landscape.
May God Bless you all.
© Rick Hayes