It’s been a little while since I have shared much of what is happening on my travels. This is mainly because things move quite slowly. There are things happening which are encouraging to me, but will probably seem quite mundane to others and so the ‘story’ does not appear here. For example; I was very encouraged the other day when a someone I walked past said good morning to me! That seems pretty mundane and nothing to write home about.
If I put that in context that I have seen this guy every day for the last 15 months and have been given the totally clear message to stay away and take my religion elsewhere which has been backed up with piss taking comments and low level threatening behaviour. A smile and a ‘good morning vic’ is, for me, a massive step forward in the realms of starting to become accepted as a person.
As far as what I do, I spend a lot of time being present in places. As I am present I continue to be available to listen or chat – depending on who I meet and where I meet them.
I am seeing more and more in my wanderings and in my ‘just being around’ that God speaks through people massively and seems to work incredibly through the mundane. By mundane I do not mean boring, but I do mean ordinary. The stuff that we do each day on automatic and not really notice as we do it. From my experience and in my particular setting it’s through normal everyday stuff that God seems to work and its through normal everyday situations that I seem to be finding evidence of God moving in peoples lives. I reckon that we miss a lot of what God is doing because we are looking for God only in the spectacular. It’s true that it is really easy to see God in an amazing sunset … but it is also possible to see God in a corner of a coffee shop or bar, if only you remember to look. The sunset and the cafe are both within the creation of God.
Currently I am reading Draper’s Spiritual Intelligence and I am being struck again and encouraged by his words of encouragement to find space to simply be and rediscover who you are by listening and noticing yourself. One way that he says we can do this is to try to notice what is happening around us. Draper has the view that most of the time we allow things to pass us by and we don’t notice God because we walk around with our eyes closed to what is happening. He encourages ‘try to notice what is happening; try not to let the moment pass’.
When we are particularly touched by what people say, or a lyric in a song, or a scene in a film in a way that makes us think Draper reckons we need to dwell on that moment and experience it, asking ourselves why that particular incident has moved us or pulled us in some emotional way. Too often, he suggests, we like the feeling but then get distracted by whatever comes along next ad the moment is totally missed. As we take time to consider and really notice stuff I think we start to see more of how God is working in the real world with real people in real ways.
I think this connects with words from Taylor’s Primal Vision who talks of people not being fully in the present. By this he means that people are always concerned about what next and rushing on to the next thing and do not live in the present. Rather than being present, they are elsewhere in thought and sometimes even action given away by body language. When people are concerned about future time and stuff then they are not ‘fully there’ in the conversation they seem to be having. I loved this quote of Taylor’s:
‘The Christian, who stands in that world in the name of Christ, has nothing to offer unless they offer to be present, really and totally present, really and totally in the present. The failure of so many ‘professional’ Christians has been that they are ‘not all there!’
I think there has been a change in my ministry. I used to talk about sitting and observing, which in some ways sounds very passive and nosey. I still sit but I think now I sit and search. Observation is more general it indicates a looking for anything and noticing any and everything of what is going on. Search, on the other hand, speaks more of looking for something in particular, and I am not just looking generally, I am looking with that focus to see what God is doing and where he is doing it! When I notice something, I now work on trying to be really present with it, rather than try to plan or think what next. I’m not sure if that makes sense, but little of what I do makes entire sense!!
It is clear to me though that as I attempt to be present I find it amazing that as I slow down, search and reflect I notice more and more of what is going on around and seeing more and more of how God is working within different aspects of his creation.
If you are looking for a personally challenging and interesting red then Spiritual Intelligence is worth looking at and I’ve just noticed that Amazon have it at priced 30% off at the moment.