So that’s it. My annual holiday is over and tomorrow morning, it’s time to go back to work. I had such a blessed time at New Wine United this year – maybe even more so than in previous years. I’m not sure how many other holidays can claim to be life-changing but, without fear of drifting into hyperbole, this year mine has been.
For a long time, I have wrestled with the fact that I work in very secular role, but also feel a real calling from God. Others – a lot of others – have said the same thing about me as well. So I suppose I’ve been guilty of “hanging in there” in the day job and waiting for God to bring me into something more, well, “Christian”. It’s a terrible cliche, I know.
However, this year at New Wine, I prayed a lot about is, both alone and during times of ministry and have realised (re-realised?) that where I am now is where God wants me to be. That there is a need for me to rally other believers in the large company that I work for and to minister to God’s people in that environment. We’re blessed in organisations like ours to be well paid, we are not at all (in global terms) materially poor. However, I think that many of us are spiritually poor and are not aware of or able to express that. We go to work in our smart clothes and have to appear like we have it all together when, statistically speaking at least, a great many of my colleagues won’t have. I know that some days, I certainly don’t.
The message I have been receiving loud and clear for some time from God, both before and during New Wine, has been this:
“If you were not there to shepherd my people, then who would be?”
And the truth is that, whenever I’ve opened myself up to that reality, great things have happened: our growing prayer groups and my role as a mental health first-aider, to mention two. At New Wine, when I once again made the commitment to God that I would go where he is sending me, I felt an amazing sense of not only purpose, but peace with the decision.
If God wants me to be his salt and light to a large engineering company, then who am I to argue? Having heard the testimonies this week of two ladies persecuted for their beliefs in North Korea and Eritrea, yet who both continued to minister while in prison, I really don’t have much to complain about. OK maybe I’ll face a little ridicule, but experience has shown me so far that the worst I’m likely to come up against is a little banter, but more likely, simply apathy. I certainly won’t be locked up and tortured for what I believe. I am not being sent to a tough parish.
So tomorrow morning the work starts afresh. Both my secular role in sales and business development and also the work of loving my colleagues as Jesus would. Of being his ambassador in that workplace. Of praying for and (where I can, with) my workmates to bring that love from our Heavenly Father into their lives. As Teresa of Avila wrote:
“Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”
I’ll be his eyes, hands, feet and voice in the offices in which I work.
The most powerful witnesses to the way that Jesus Christ can transform lives are the testimonies, the stories that people are able to tell of the impact he’s had on them. They will only have those stories if we do our part to bring Jesus a little closer to them. I’m hoping and praying for an armful of brilliant testimonies to bring to New Wine next year – stories to celebrate, encourage and inspire.
So that’s why, with a small group of Christian colleagues, we start the work of writing them in the morning.