As is always the case, I felt some fear as I ventured onto the streets of Rochester wondering what, if anything, would happen. The one plus was that the day was glorious with fantastic sunshine and so the walking itself would be a pleasure.
I was surprised at how long it took me to get to my normal morning coffee location due to the number of people who stopped to speak or share stuff with me. Even when I got to the door of the pub I chatted for nearly 10 minutes outside with a great guy before actually getting inside to order my coffee. Inside I then had a couple of other long conversations.
When I reflected on this I could not make sense of what had happened. This was far from a normal day where I would expect to chat with one or two people, rather than the 6 or 7 decent conversations that did happen. Quite often after being away it seems that things take a backward step and I have to be patient again.
As I was praying around this the idea of a broken bone came to my mind. Specifically that when a bone breaks, new growth occurs to fill the gap that has opened out in the break. I am not sure how medically sound that is, but it does make some sense to me.
For me, I wonder whether taking a short break from my ministry has now started to leave a gap. In some places I am becoming part of the furniture, which I think is a good thing, and so now sometimes my not being there is noticed. I wonder if this causes growth in the sense of questioning. I guess a disadvantage of always being there is that if people have questions or want to talk they can easily put it off thinking ‘he’ll be here tomorrow’. People being away for a while may remind us of our fragility and a need to take opportunities.
More importantly, though, I think taking a break, forcing a gap in my routine and approach, may have been a cause of new growth in how I view things and what I notice and don’t notice. This type of growth causes me to take a fresh outlook, to view differently and re-new my expectations.
The pressure of ministry can lead us to think we always need to be present, or that we must not miss this or that opportunity. It seems to me that we need to continue to trust God and give God more control. Sometimes, God works in ‘the opportunity’ that we are fortunate enough to be involved in, whereas other times God generates growth in the gap that is left when we break away or moved along for a time. If that break did not occur, the growth, whatever growth in this case may be, just would not happen.