Ever had the winter blues? Is it effecting your ministry?
As January comes to a gloomy close I thought you might like to see this bulletin Nicola and I compiled for our monthly New Wine circular…
Talking Yourself Down From the Temple Roof.
It’s January. Gloomy days. Christmas has come and gone. 200 congregants absent without leave for another year after a brief festive fling. It’s time for the enemy to take you up to the pinnacle of the temple and show you what could be yours if you’ll just look elsewhere.
Church Times open on the only pages you’ll bother to read. Find-a-job websites flash on your screen. Your Facebook feed feeds your flight plan. It’s time to flee. Adverts flash out. More perfect places, prettier parsonages, plentiful people await you. If only they’ll pick you.
And then the gloom sets in. You’re not young enough/old enough; experienced enough/fresh enough; male enough; and escapist envy becomes anguished angst. Sadly you climb down from the vantage point of adverts and settle into making do where you are – but all you can see of the King’s Castle in your location is a ruin surrounded by briers.
Ever been on that journey? Escapism/Despair? Or perhaps you’re just overwhelmed by the enormity and complexity of mission in 21C UK?
You may be helped by this:
Nicola was recently leading a retreat and was challenged to keep her own time with God sacred while being there: She lay down to rest in His presence and had this picture…
As I rested I had a picture of myself being outside of sleeping beauty’s palace. The thicket of ivy and bushes had grown up thick around the palace. I couldn’t see the kingdom palace at all – I tried to squeeze through but it was no use – God’s knows I’m short and so I could not see over the thick growth – I sensed God calling me to lie down – to lay low. As I laid low I realised that I could just see though the thicket where there were little gaps between the stems of growth. As I did so I could see flickers of light, colour, beauty – I could see in part the palace and kingdom. I sensed God’s call to lay low – to be in prayer again in order to keep my eyes on the kingdom – for me there’s no other way than getting down on the ground in prayer.
If Satan is trying to take you up to the roof of a temple to gaze at other kingdoms, why not subvert his purposes at the start of the year by resolving to get on your face before God and see things from a servant’s eye view. If God needs you elsewhere he can make that happen (and if we can help please ask – especially if you’re worried you’ll be unfairly overlooked) but let’s not waste His time daydreaming. Instead, let’s get lower, so we can see the glory he’s already bringing where we are.
Even our gloomy January blues can be given to God, as Christy Wimber said: “Don’t hold back parts of who you are, because that’s the part he wants to use. Seek him till he comes then yield to him. How do we get more of God? Yield, surrender…and allow him by the power of his Spirit to take us, move in us, and change us for his glory.”
[also published as a bulletin for church leaders in the New Wine Network – January 2017]