Yesterday evening… candles flickering, lively chatter, warm embrace of old friends. The scene? – The packed chapel at YWAM’s Harpenden headquarters. One by one our friends Joyce, Dave, Terri, Dan, Jeanette, Johnny, Heather and Osana stood up to testify about what God had been doing in their lives during the last five months. They were the latest YWAM multi-national Crossroads team and were graduating: testifying, receiving their certification and being commissioned for the months and years that lie ahead. A group of us went down from Coventry; earlier in the year they had helped us in ESOL classes, attended our international Bible study and we had bonded well. It was wonderful to see them again.
The stories the team told were moving: God had done deep works of healing broken hearts, re-orientating, bringing ’fresh wings’ of confidence, providing miraculous encounters and now a fresh sense of commissioning for something new. ‘Ah!’ I asked them, ‘it’s over, so, what now?’ One was staying on at Harpenden to work in the hospitality house, another was going to India to give out Bibles and evangelise; others were going back to their countries of origin with a new sense of purpose, perhaps not knowing what the future holds but resting in the hand of God, assured of His future commissioning and leading.
Driving home, I was chatting with my friend, Jo, who leads the YWAM base in Coventry, along with her husband, Ben. Casually, she asked if we move around in terms of our community houses in the Jesus Fellowship. She shared that some of the senior YWAM leadership was sensing call of God to move on. ‘It’s scary,’ she said, ‘but positive. It gives room for a rising and younger generation.’ It’s a time for fresh green shoots to be given space to sprout.
I woke up this morning and my mind was buzzing: ‘at the call of God…’
What if we encouraged one another to ask, to listen out again for God’s now call for our lives. What does God want me to do in this time?
We have stressed faithfulness, hanging on, hanging in there whatever – and that can be good – very good. But perhaps the flip side of that is that we have held on too tightly – to our houses, our ministries, our leaders and our friends – and not asked (or tuned in to) that restlessness within which can be of the Holy Spirit and the still small voice of God’s call for now.
Would our community houses, our households and our church life as a whole look fresher, ‘greener’, if we listened more, embraced courage and acted on God’s call for now? Perhaps there would be more movement and more growth – as well as, of course, more tears.
Seven years ago I left our Nottingham scene and moved to the larger Coventry scene. I wrestled with my doubts. Was I letting people down by going? What would happen to the scene once I’d gone? Did I feel guilty at going? (Yes, to a certain degree.) Inwardly, however I heard God’s persistent call to move on and found grace to obey. Faithfulness to our friends, our scene is secondary; faithfulness to God and His now call must come first – yet, ultimately it is the latter that will do our friends, our scene the most good.
Our expectations of others and personal disappointments in their moves can bring a sense of misplaced guilt to them. Shame! It is God who demands our first loyalty and it must be His pleasure alone we want to satisfy.
As we wait upon, listen out for, move with God’s now call on our lives, we, our church, will be being constantly re-shaped and re-orientated. That can only be good. The fresh shoots are being allowed room to grow. The life of God’s Holy Spirit is pouring in once again.
Let’s set people free. What is God’s now word to you? What is His now call today? Do it!