Checking the shore

(This fab post is written by Rich)

We can get so busy. Caught up in all the things that “are so important” or the things that might, and probably will, “fall apart” if we don’t do them. The events that will “not be as good when we’re not there” and the people “that will struggle if we’re not around”. Sometimes we share these opinions out loud, but usually they are a hidden, personal dialogue. This hidden dialogue so often drives us. We build our world, where all these things depend on us. Or so we think.

We so often, and I am guilty as charged, construct a world with us at the centre. We are the doorway, the celebrity, the saviour, the ‘one’. And we are really busy doing it all.

I once heard someone say we can substitute the word “busy” for the word “important”. Saying “I’m really busy” is actually saying to your listener or audience “I’m really important”. We fall into that trap.

I’ve recently been on retreat and have been reflecting on the hidden life of a leader (as well as a follower of Jesus, husband, father and friend). If we do not have the right assessment of our self and what we’re doing it does two things.  Firstly, we get very busy & stressed and secondly, we miss the point!

We get busy.

The change of scenery, of pace and surroundings of the retreat was so good. I was jolted and encouraged out of current patterns & mindsets. The change helped me to see a little more clearly. I realised that so much is done on auto-pilot; that I step in, fix, manage, hold tightly and try to keep all the moving parts juggled and perfectly balanced together. I sometimes do this intentionally but more often that not I drift into these patterns. Like the effect of the tide, I am taken subtly further and further away from the point & patterns I want. I don’t realise it until there is jolt – a conversation, a disappointment, a challenge. The retreat was the opportunity to see where the drift had taken me.

What would it look like if I regularly checked the shore? Where am I and where should I be? Am I drifting? How do I keep my course? 

If we don’t stop, look & listen we miss the point. It’s  like crossing a road. If we put our head down and run hard we may make it across the road – or we may hit something on the road or something on the road may hit us! We need to stop, look and listen.

We are designed to be heroic as we take on the adventure of life. We are called to be ‘running a race’ and heading ‘towards a prize’. To be running alongside others. To be sacrificing & battling for good. We’re on an adventure with a quest to be contended for. There is so much God has, by His grace, placed in us. So much He has in His heart for us.

In story the hero always wins – but he does it through battle & sacrifice and on behalf of others. There is a cost. A cost.  I wish there wasn’t, but there is.

We live in an era of comfort & celebrity – not heroes. Many of the messages we hear overtly & covertly from the media are about keeping or improving what we have and creating an environment of comfort. Many of the popular figures we read about, hear and watch are celebrity figures. They are exalted as celebrities – they are prospering but not for the good of others. A celebrity usually wins and has an adventure but it’s disconnected from normality and generally comes with little personal cost and primarily for personal gain.

And the biggest danger? That we watch the celebrities adventure rather than living our own. Reality TV is a counterfeit that we watch and are held captive by. We sit watching it rather than living it out. And then, in the middle of the reality TV show we watch the advert breaks and are bombarded with all that we ‘need’ or ‘should have’ – gathering possessions rather than experiences & memories.

I want to be jolted again. And then again. Not to drift with the tide.

In search of oneness

Often in marriage we are constantly learning what it means to be “one” with our “other half”. I remember in our first year of marriage Rich and I made an agreement that we would phone or text each other before spending any amount over £5. Looking back it seems a litttle excessive but we made the agreement after my trouser addiction came into the light. I was regularly buying a pair of trousers, “storing” them in our room for a while without telling Rich and then pulling them out at a time I wanted to wear them. Clearly if our marriage was to succeed I couldn’t continue stashing trousers away without telling Rich! I needed some accountability, and I needed to realise my vows: “All that I am I give to you, all that I have I share with you.”

“I” was no longer “I”. “We” were “we”. And that meant that “my” money was no longer mine. It was “ours”. So the text/phone agreement gave clear boundaries for both of us to be accountable to the other. The agreement lasted a few months. By that time we had established a foundation and a pattern for our marriage; we no longer needed the firm boundaries because we had established the foundation of trust and accountability.

Ten years on and the need for oneness continues. The challenges are different. Right now our challenge is to remain as “one” in ministry. Our heart is to always reflect God together, as “one”. Although we may do different things, and have different callings we have never wanted to have “Anna’s ministry” or “Rich’s ministry”. Even in the times where Rich is a more “visible” presence than me we have always felt that what he communicates represents both of us. Likewise when I write something, or I disciple someone, it is the fruit of our oneness together in Christ. Maybe one day our roles will look very different but our heart is to continue to be “one”.

Sometimes when Rich travels it can be harder to hold on to this. When he recently returned from a trip to Australia someone sent me an encouraging text which said “Well done, you did it. Frontiers were won because you released him. It’s your ground too.”

To me, that little text summarized oneness:

Your ground is my ground. Your victories are my victories. Your people are my people. Your joy is my joy. Your sorrows are my sorrows. Your life is my life. Your God is my God.

How about you? – what does oneness look like for you?

posted by anna