As I sit here in my lunch break there are 22 weeks until my ordination, and since the new year that has become all the more real to me. 22 weeks until, I stop doing this job I have done, 22 weeks until we move home, 22 weeks until life changes completely. I am one of those strange creatures that actually don’t mind change. It may sound like a cliché but I look forward to meeting new people, and facing new challenges. That said it is the past that over the last month or so I have been thinking a little more about. The past and how grateful I am for the people that God has put in my way.
I think of Miss Field who ran a Bible Study group in my road when I was but a lad. We went for the sweets, but I am sure that was the beginning of my journey. She is long gone, and would not have had a clue about her impact. The business leader whose faith and encouragement helped me ask the greater questions of life. I think of a customer who unbeknown to me at the time quietly showed me what a Christ like person might act like. He was the first person I rang when I was looking for a Church. The chippy who prayed with me when it all became real, and hung around over the next few years to show me how to be a disciple. The atheist friend who showed me that you didn’t need to be a Christian to be a good person without belittling my faith. The Christian brother who paid my mortgage during a prolonged period of trouble. He showed me real love, by doing it without fuss and allowing me some dignity. Then there was the Church leader who observed something in me that I did not see, and opened the door to opportunity. Indeed the many Christian leaders who have done that. But others have helped in most unexpected ways, like the ex-evangelical Christian, whose life style choices could have made her shun Christians. Instead she was willing to share her time to answer my questions without judgment but with friendship, and encouragement to be all I believed God would have me be.
All these people and more have been flowing through my head over the last few months and I am grateful. Jesus said. “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:3 is often quoted at times of sorrow, after some great life giving sacrifice, but I wonder if there is more to it. Is it not in the living out of everyday life that we lay down our life through our actions for those around us? These people and more have done that for me. And so to slightly misquote a recent talk I heard from another one of those friends. I remember back with gratitude, and look forward with excitement, expectation, and yes with a sense of obligation to those who have journeyed with me thus far.