My blogging journey from the beginning for those who are interested. Each week I will include one of those original blogs from Martin Scott’s Perspective site. February 4th 2010 and the blogging began. Never did this before, but what therapy, what a joy, what a chronicling of a journey that never ends. In many ways things have developed, but it is good to see where we come from to appreciate where we are. All in the healing. Enjoy or endure…
This may not surprise you if you have been following my blog over these past few weeks but I do not get many invitations to speak/share/preach anymore. Oh I do get a few sweeping statements like, ‘you’ll have to come and preach for us sometime’ or ‘I’ll give you a call and you can come share with us.’ These statements are rarely carried through. Anyway how can anybody have somebody in the pulpit who is not part of a church/denomination/congregation even house group? I am not in submission to anybody after all, must be rebellious, will only lead their congregations astray!!!
was one of those rare times I had an invitation to speak at a small church/chapel in Aberdare with a predominantly older than me congregation. As I was thinking about what to share with them I started reading about the life of Jacob, an amazing story. Why did God seemingly ‘prefer’ to work with Jacob than goody-two shoes Esau? The mummies boy, the trickster, the homeboy, the conniver over the hard working, father pleasing Esau. Not getting into the ‘does God have favourites?’ debate here, but I find this intriguing and so encouraging. Encouraging because the Bible is full of social misfits, failures and outcasts that get chosen to do special stuff; Moses the murderer, David the adulterer, Peter the denier, Thomas the doubter, Paul the hater-all chosen by God for the special stuff. And in this dubious list is Jacob the deceiver.
Jacob the forced pilgrim.
Jacob never became a pilgrim by choice, situations of his own doing, in a plot with his mother, left him with no choice but to leave home. He was rejected, alone, totally lost in the terrain of the wilderness. A home boy that became a wanderer. Looking for distant family that would hopefully take him in. It was during one night in the desert that he took a stone and went to sleep. Then something incredible happened, God appeared in a dream with the angels of God ascending and descending. A holy moment in an unholy place. An encounter without invitation. The supernatural in the most natural of surroundings. On a journey, in the wilderness, not planned, not prepared for…But God!!!!
When he woke up he said ‘surely the Lord is in this place and I did not know it…This is none other than the house of God and this is the gate of heaven…This stone I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house…’
There are many church buildings in Wales called Bethel, the house of God. What a misrepresentation of the original Bethel. The Lord was in this place. Where exactly? The wilderness, the journey, the rejected place, the in between area. Or as God answered Jacob, ‘wherever you go.’ The house of God is not a building or a static place, but where God is all along on our journey, even when we don’t know it. The gate of heaven is where we are, connected with God, wherever we are. BUT why do we always try to make static the house that is not made with hands? Even Jacob put down a stone and said this shall be God’s house. What is it with making something concrete and immovable all the time? We will follow this theme through at a different time.
The Aisles of Asda
This brings me to the discovery in my own journey of the house of God being where I am even though I did not know it. As I shared before I found the transition from church pastor to night-shift shelf stacker very difficult. I had one of those nice comments from someone this week, joking but pointed all the same, ‘oh how the mighty have fallen!’ Bless them for making me feel like crap. But then it came to me,’ better to be a mighty man fallen than someone still parading on the pedestal.’ That is how I felt though when I went on nights, humiliated, embarrassed, a failure, let down by God and man. Did not realise the life full of pride that would even think this work is below me. Thought it would only be very short term before something else turned up, something better. I was tired all the time, aching all over, working hard at a job where I found no satisfaction whatsoever. I hated it when I bumped into people who asked me ‘what are you doing now?’ I would mumble about doing nights and then add until God opens up a new door. What I did not realise was I was already walking through the door. Unlike Jacob I cannot point to a specific supernatural encounter other than what I shared last time of how God made Himself so real in that hotel room. But since then I have discovered that God was there in those aisles all along even though I did not realise it. That there is Bethel, none other than the house of God, the gate of heaven. He is so real and He walks with me and talks with me. The connections that have been made in that place are amazing. The friends, the companions, the fellow journeyperson, all at different stages of belief/non-belief but all a link in my journey at this time. Johnson the Roman Catholic believer from India, H the artist, Sam and Dan the musicians, Terry the Cockney joker, Mike the Irish lapsed Catholic, Dai the ladies man always sharing about his conquests, and that is just some of the guys. not even mentioning the girls at the moment. This is my community, my family, my congregation. And I have learned to be content wherever I am, especially in those aisles that transform so often into holy places. But I am learning not just the aisles, but home, family, social life etc. All places of Bethel experience. And no, unlike Jacob I am not going to put down any stone and say this is the place. Wherever I lay my hat that’s my home, and His as well.
A few Asda stories
Next time I will share a few Asda stories as well as share whatever I find to share, whatever the journey uncovers.
Some chose pilgrimage, some are forced pilgrims, but whoever we are and wherever we are may we experience the Bethel of God today and everyday.