I did something quite unusual for me at the weekend. I was deliberately belligerent and ignored what I was being told by people I was meant to be working with! I want to reassure you that usually I go out of my way to accommodate the wishes of others. But on this occasion, I think sticking to my plan was absolutely the right course of action!
I was to have a space on a stall at the Surbiton Festival to promote a course I will be running on meditation. However the day before, I was informed that there just would not be enough room for me. So when I arrived on Saturday morning I just plonked myself down in front of the stand with my camping table and stools and began to give free spiritual readings as originally planned. This is because for a number of years, I have been obedient and ended up stuck at the end of the street with very little contact with the majority of the public who are visiting stalls in the main part of the fair. The other reason I chose to ignore the protestations of the stallholders was that I had just spent two days at Kingston University’s Freshers Fair doing Ruach card readings (www.ruachcards.co.uk) and had been blown away by the demand from not yet Christians. While other churchgoers on my team were unsure of using cards to reveal God’s word to people who do not yet know Him, once they saw the positive response from the students and their willingness, having received their reading, to be prayed for ‘in the name of Jesus’, their fears were dispelled. So even while I could hear the complaints about my actions going on around me, I continued to focus on and bless those who wanted a word of encouragement and came to sit beside me. Sure enough the critical voices began to quieten as they saw the reactions of those I engaged with and some volunteers on the stand could see I was actually attracting ‘punters’ to the stall rather than getting in the way and putting them off.
I am sure not everyone was convinced, but I am beginning to grasp that sometimes the best way of communicating what it is you are trying to do is just to get on with it. I have wasted a lot of time and expended a lot of energy trying to win over my critics when actually the most powerful argument is to show them. Or maybe it’s not that others are actively against my plans, they just can’t really get their head round what it is I am attempting to articulate. Yet when the vision becomes reality, suddenly it becomes clear. And as I was reading about Jesus’ encounter with the demonised man this morning, I was struck how easy it is to lack the courage of our convictions and hide behind the criticisms of others, the walls of a church or the stall of an organisation. Luke 8:38 says, “The man who had been demon-possessed begged Jesus to let him stay with him. But he sent him away. ‘Go back to your home’, he said, ‘and tell them what God has done for you.’ And he went off round every town, declaring what Jesus had done for him.” Tom Wright in ‘Luke for Everyone’ draws the following conclusion, “The man, quite understandably, wants to stay with Jesus. Not only is he now bonded with him by the astonishing rescue he has experienced; he may well assume that things would not be easy back in his home territory…He would have to stand up and take responsibility for himself; he couldn’t rely on being able, as it were, to hide behind Jesus…Having experienced the good news in action, he must now tell it himself (p. 101-2).”
While I have had the courage to be able to reveal something of the good news over the last week at Kingston University and in Surbiton High Street, I am still apprehensive about stepping out into new territory with the meditation course that begins on Sunday. No-one might come. I might fall flat on my face. I might have built expectations that will be disappointed by what I deliver. But you know what? I am not going to hide behind anyone or anything else. I will take responsibility for what I have prepared, feel the fear and do it anyway! And actually, I think that is all that God requires.