Time Out

10 Nov

So many thoughts and things to write down today. Don’t know how to order them really, so i apologise for anything that is lost or unclear because of this.

I was out with my friend Clare last night, we went to a discussion about theology and pop culture. If i’m honest, didn’t come away particularly challenged, i guess that i’ve thought through this issue a lot being a youth worker. The most important part of the evening was talking over a glass of wine about how things are going. With all the talk of work i came to the realisation about my current feelings and situation, this has proved to be really important. I said quite innocently (i think) that i haven’t actually been in a church service since i started work at WHBC. This is partly down to me as i haven’t made the effort to attend an evening service as Sunday evenings are generally a time that Jo and me get to spend together. Anyway the somewhat unstartaling discovery was that i have been starting to tire spiritually. It’s only been 2 months since starting at WHBC and i’m not exactly rushed off my feet in these early foundational days but the workload is starting to increase as contacts are made and ideas are formulated.

A slight aside is that this not really being ridiculously busy has been worrying me. I guess that many of us who work in paid positions in churches often feel a journey to prove our worth by working every hour that God sends and if we’re not then something is wrong. I know that this is wrong and i guess that i should model a different way to how the rest of the world operates which places value on being busy and people are judged by how many hours they work. Much of this pressure to work like this comes from within and the sense of calling that i feel to do everything that i can to help young people and the wider community to explore Christianity. A further pressure comes from seeing the commitment of people in churches who work a full day and then give up their ‘spare time’ to deal with matters of church life. I count myself privileged that i can spend my days thinking about the Church that i feel so passionate about. I do love my job and thank God for His calling upon my life. A vocation is a funny thing, there is often a blurred line between where work finishes and time off begins. Is this what wholeheartedly committing yourself to something is about? Not distinguishing between things but instead living every aspect of life in the service of and as worship to God. One of my old bosses used to say about his life and ministry, when i wake up i clock on and going to sleep is clocking off. I can really understand what he means by that. Even in times when i am not in the office or leading a group my mind is continuously filled with thoughts of how youth work can develop or how the Church can more authentically ‘be’ Church. Sometimes i long for a 9-5 job, but actually i know that i would hate it. Freedom of thought, creativity and expression are some of the reasons why i love what i do. That ended up being a long aside.

After my conversation with Clare i realised that i just needed some time to ‘be’. It’s always amazing that my spiritual disciplines are the first thing to creak when times get busy or complicated. Why is it that in times when we need God the most we push Him to the sidelines? I hope that this will change as i continue to mature in my relationship with God.

The crux of today’s ramblings are that i decided to set some time aside just to be with God. I realised that if i start to lose my focus when times are manageable how much more will i need to stick close to God when things start to change and develop. So i decided to spend some time walking this morning. Lea Valley Park is so close to my house and i don’t take advantage of this enough. Ended up walking for over an hour and found myself in a nice little pub with a log fire where i have been sitting, reading, thinking, praying and journaling over some rather nice coffee.

Along my walk i asked God to bring to mind the things that He wanted to speak to me about. I love walking and i often find myself looking around at creation and that stirs something up in me, a sense of connectness to God and all that He has made. God spoke to me and drew my thoughts to various things in my life and work which have resulted in this entry. I have desperately been trying to justify this time away from my desk but have realised that this is the most productive i have been for a long time.

I have been sitting and reading Brian McClaren’s book ‘A New Kind of Christian’ which is the story of 2 friends on a spiritual journey where they talk and discuss their lives and how Christianity and Church affect them. Lots of discussion takes place of how the Church is or is not changing in the new times of post-modernity. The discussions are uncomfortable and not knowing the precise steps ahead is also scary. Much of this fits with the thoughts that God has been leading me through over the past years. The interesting thing is how the friendship of Dan and Neo in the book has been replicated in my life through friendships with Colin (in Stopsley) and Marc (Custom House). These are people i have spent time with and talked and shared experiences with. There have been many others as well but this book reminds me and those in particular. I found myself as i walked asking God to put a person or people into my life who i can talk with honestly and walk together with on this journey of life and exploration.

As i have been writing this the pub has become busier (not just me now) and i have realised just what a privilege it is to be called. Each one of us who is seeking to walk along with God is called by name. Wow, the Creator of the heavens and the earth calls each one us individually and collectively to a specific job at a specific time in a specific place. Managed to fill over 6 pages in my journal.

For anyone who may of read this, you may well have gained a new insight into me as a person and the clutteredness of my brain. Let’s keep journeying with Him together as together we are strong and we are inherently linked together as family. God Bless you. Better start walking!!!

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One Response to “Time Out”

  1. Anonymous November 11, 2004 at 10:07 pm #

    good onya lewis. glad to read that you’re doing a struggle to find the integration in being and doing. it sounds like you’re beginning to see that there is much more to living vocationally than overcrwoding your life with busy-ness.
    what you’ve described is another form of the reflective practitioner stuff you were doing at college – but actually doing it for real now…or perhaps, doing it for yourself rather than for your tutor.
    i can only encourage you to develop what you’ve just described, and actually make it into a habit that integrates your being with your doing. it will keep you alive. it will surprise you occasionally. it will allow god the space to tell you stuff, instead of you constantly telling him stuff. keep walkin mate. love to you and jo, tony

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