There are times when I really feel like the church in the book of Revelation that is accused of being luke-warm. I don’t particularly feel far from God, I just don’t feel so on the ball and I don’t beat myself up about it either! So when one of the churches in Inverness was hosting a “soaking school” I signed up for the meeting tonight and for the day tomorrow.
I spent quite a bit of time in preparation for the evening. I admit to being a tad worried at times that everyone else will get touched by God and I will be left stone cold! I sent some time praying about that. The big issue though for me is about feeling manipulated. I have been to many meetings where it is not necessarily the Spirit that is doing the stirring. Because of that I kind of go into these things with my guard up and keep a distance from what is happening. I am vaguely cynical at times, but repented and asked God to increase my expectation.
However, God gave me two words. The first was “Step forward” – be prepared to embrace what is said. Along with that was this idea of being unrestrained – not putting up barriers and allowing God access in whatever way He wanted to move.
The second word, which could sound like an opposite was “Step back”. This is a curious one. Because I am so wanting to join in and feel something, I often try too hard to make it happen. God was saying “Step back” – not to wind myself up, make myself feel something, when in reality there was nothing of substance happening. God said, He wanted to do it all, without my help. He would do the touching, if there was to be any.
It came right out of the blue. The speaker was talking about forgiveness. I recognized that it is something that I don’t do enough of. Her list of people that she hadn’t forgiven was thirteen or fourteen – mine was a lot longer. I have whole classes that hurt me and I carry the hurt like a badge. She talked about forgiveness bringing release and freedom – that you are no longer tied to the person by your anger.
Then she went on to talk about forgiving God. I had never thought about forgiving God – that I would ever need to forgive God. Bad things happen and, yes, God could have prevented them from happening but chose not to, and, yes, I suppose you do get angry with God – but I always thought that you focused on the fact that all things work out for good, so you just get on with it. The whole idea that you could hold a grudge against God surprised me. God is good, he has paid the price for my sins, adopted me in his family – so many really wonderful things that the things that don’t turn out so good, are nothing in comparison.
And yet, sometimes all you have really done is suppressed it. Even if you talk it through and feel better, it is not necessarily dealt with.
After she had finished talking, she asked for people to come forward if they felt they needed to forgive anyone. My millions of third year pupils that give me grief came to mind and knowing I was to “Step forward”, I went to the front.
Once I was there the word 6to “Step back” came and I decided to allow God His space and not try to direct His gaze. I soon discovered that the real issue was not the millions of third years giving me grief. My issue was with God.
When I married Joe, I thought I had stepped onto a path of motherhood. It was part of the plan – children. And a break from teaching while I reared them. The path I found myself on was barrenness, infertility treatment, miscarriages and no children at all. I never had the break from teaching. There are so many things – not reading to them at night, no tucking them in, no homework to supervise, no parents evening, no being the mother of the bride at the weddings, not grandchildren. People that have children just have no idea of the hundreds of ways that childless couples miss out. I know they miss out on the wet beds and the nit combs – but there is so much I don’t get to do.
Suddenly what I have never allowed myself to really say was that it was God’s fault. I was robbed of my motherhood!
I am three years into the menopause, so my biological clock has just about stopped ticking.
When one of the helpers came to minister to me, we stood for a while holding hands, and then embraced. Maybe God didn’t say anything to the woman, but to me He said “Mourn the loss of your motherhood.” That is kind of a depressing thing – not the uplifting thing I was looking for! I cried. It wasn’t unrestrained weeping and wailing – just heart wrenching sobs.
God talked to me about putting me on my path and not to yearn to be on someone else’s. I was almost wasting time wishing that I was somewhere else in life and not being the “me” that I could be. Motherhood was not my road, my road was better! My road was just as full of challenges, just as full of joy, just as fulfilling. My road was a good road and it wasn’t a single track with passing places and potholes!
A verse came to mind about weeping enduring for a night but joy coming in the morning. “Why wait till morning?” said the Spirit. I don’t know whether I can say that I feel joyful right now – I feel contentment. I feel the right path beneath my feet and an explorer’s anticipation.