The first time I drove down the motorway on my own was pretty horrendous and scary, mostly because I didn’t intend to be there. I was not a fan of motorways having been on them maybe once or twice on a calm, clear day before. But one day I was dropping my parents off in the centre of town and was given very specific instructions on how to get home: at the big roundabout, take the first exit and bear slightly right and carry on in the right hand lane of the road. I however bore more than slightly right. I ended up taking the second exit and sure enough found myself on a very busy slip road on way way down to the motorway. It actually took me a while to even realise exactly where I was heading and the junction I was approaching was known for being particularly nasty as, as soon as you’re on, you are immediately joined by more lanes of traffic on the left. Before I knew it, I was in a blind panic, doing 45 miles an hour in the outside lane of the M3, in rush hour with little idea of what to do, just knowing that I wanted to get off. Sometimes I think ministry can feel a little bit like this.
I was told as I started as a Relay Worker that if you don’t have the occasional awkward moment you’re probably doing something wrong. This is something I like to think I’ve fully embraced since moving back up to Lancaster. One thing I’ve learnt over my life is that you have to do everything first once, and often the first time is not the best. Naturally, this term so far has been a lot of firsts or as I like to call it: A Series of Awkward events.
The first day of living in my flat, I came home from shopping all ready to unpack my room only to find I had locked myself out of my room and had to ring the landlord to take my door handle off. I then spent half a week without a door handle and thus unable to close my door. The first time I met a couple of students I thought it would be appropriate to break the silence with ‘isn’t it cool that you two have the same birthday?’ Note to self: it’s okay to look people up on Facebook prior to meeting, it’s not okay to reveal this information in conversation. The first time I opened up the Bible with someone, I accidentally ended up doing a one to one prayer meeting with a guy who’s name I didn’t even know entirely on circumcision. Note to self: preparation is key. Finally, the first time I gave a CU talk we had to stop half way through to give a police report on assault and two of the members ended up in a&e. The general idea of a talk like this is that the blind will have their eyes opened, when I give a talk, the sighted were momentarily blinded after an encounter with a couple of youths and some disinfectant.
But the thing is, everything you’re good at and enjoy, you did once for the first time. First times are rarely the best times but they’re rarely the last times either. And none of that compares to the joy of reading the Bible with someone and really seeing their eyes opened, or sharing such encouragements from around the region or seeing people getting so excited about our mission. Last week we had a free lunch with a talk entitled ‘Is God just a Delusion?’ where we saw 80 people, 10 of whom signed up to our alpha course to explore the big questions of life and 4 saying they want to follow Jesus. It’s times like this that I remember that this mission is so much bigger than me. Thankfully God is more than capable and even happy to use a series of awkward and haphazard events for his glory. Thank goodness it’s not down to me.
Sometimes I feel like I’m driving madly down the motorway out of control and no idea where I’m heading. Then I realise I’m just the passenger and suddenly things looks a whole lot brighter. And if I hadn’t driven on the motorway on my own that one time, I can almost guarantee I still wouldn’t have done by now and that’s why I’m so glad I did. This term so far really has been incredible and I’ve learnt more than I can imagine and had so many encouragements, we really have been so blessed. It’s now time to look upwards and onwards because we have big plans this year and I’m super excited but I have no doubt that God’s plans are bigger 🙂