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The weekend has arrived.  At some points this week it felt as though it would never come…

It has been an unusual kind of week…one filled with many conversations, divine appointments and catch-ups with a range of different people…and each conversation has left me feeling challenged, convicted, saddened, joyful, and impatient…all in varying degrees.  Here’s a brief insight into some of the conversations…

Work continues to be a challenge, requiring an ever changing attitude as each day brings new adventures, new pressures, new situations in which I could choose to blow a gasket, or I could choose to take a big deep breath and act with grace, compassion and patience.  It is not easy.  And I have messed up as per usual on numerous occasions.  I have failed over the last three months to take time to reflect on my experiences…I have forgotten to listen to God each day on what He wants me to be doing, how He wants me to be acting, who He wants me to be reaching out to…instead I fear I have got consumed in ME – what am I getting?  what am I achieving or not achieving as the case may be?  why am I not being listened to?  what am I not able to change things for the better?  Me, Me Me…And then I have a meeting with my business mentor and friend – an amazing man who is experienced in the business world, who is a passionate Christ follower, and who has a gift to ask the right questions (albeit pointed at times), to listen for the right amount of time, and to give guidance and space for me to reflect…and the result?  A challenge and conviction to change my attitude, to trust God more, to lift my gaze from my belly button and look to heaven, to start doing something about my quandries and difficult situations, rather than taking a tail spin downwards into self-pity and me-centred griping.

I had an amazing meeting with an old friend that I hadnt seen in about 7 years – a true blast from the past this week!  And the more I think about, it has been a real divine appointment.  I had the opportunity to spend a good couple of hours with this guy, listening to his successes and adventures in life, sharing a wee bit about where I am at, and enjoying some engaging conversation about my faith, my belief in Jesus and the need to be living for Him.  And it was then that I was introduced to the concept of agnosticism (is this the right way to spell it?), the view that Christians are just positive thinkers, that the Bible is made up of many wonderful, but grossly exaggerated stories, that there could be a heaven but definitely no hell, and that church is actually more like a middle-class club, where you are judged, where masks are firmly in position (never allowed to drop) and where you have to put on an act to fit in….I was deeply saddened and challenged by this conversation as well…it definitely got me thinking about what I believe and why I believe it…and it also provoked a deep desire within me to reach out to this guy, who has been very successful thus far in his young life, and share with him more about the reality of being a Christ follower, and what a church of believers should be about.  It got me thinking about my own church – are we a bunch of middle-class, mask wearing, judging, hypocrits?  It scares me to think that we might be?  What impact is that having on those that might want to step into the church, but are too scared about what they might come across?  We have a lot to do.

Today I met up with a guy that I knew from university days.  We chatted, we caught up, we prayed…and we discussed everything from working life to church life, from our spiritual journeys to the challenges that women can pose, from the thorns in our sides that can so easily entangle, to the need to keep faithful to God and his leading.  This young man, a teacher – has served God faithfully during his first full year of teaching…he set up a men’s bible study for teachers, he was not afraid to have conversations with students and his fellow colleagues about his love for Jesus, and he was determined to make a difference to the lives of many that he was interacting with on a daily basis.  I was encouraged and challenged to do likewise.

And then I have also been struck by the number of people around my age that are deeply struggling with illness – I have questioned at times why this can be so…and than have had to catch myself on – who am I to ask such questions.  Major illnesses, mental pressure, stress and anxiety, loneliness, insecurity, unhappiness…so many hurting people…so unsure as to how to help all of them…so much to do…where do we start?

I guess the Sunday School answer is right at the foot of the cross…laying all of these things before our Father God…for only He can give us the strength to get through each day, to give us guidance and direction when we’re not sure where we are headed, to give peace and rest when health begins to suffer…but it’s difficult sometimes.  My hope is that we will all become more real than we have ever been before, not being afraid to drop our masks completely, sharing one another’s burdens, encouraging one another, loving one another wholeheartedly…

So much to do…

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Every so often, just the right combination of conditions and events occur to create an unbelievable event – in the case of the picture above, an F/A-18 Hornet passing through the sound barrier.  Not only were the water vapour, density and temperature just right, but there just happened to be a camera in the vicinity to capture the moment.  Navy Ensign John Gay made this phenomenal photograph on July 7, 1999, while aboard the carrier USS Constallation as Navy Lt Ron Candiloro flew by.  The plane is actually in transonic flight, with normal shock waves emanating from behind the canopy and across the wings and fuselage.  The condition will last for only an instant, and once supersonic flow exists completely around the aircraft, sharp-angled sonic cones replace the normal shock waves.

Why do I share this piece of potentially useless information?  No – I haven’t become a plane spotter in my old age…nor have I just completed a degree in quantum physics or engineering.  Instead, I have been struggling with a number of turbluent issues recently in my personal life, spiritual life and working life as well, which have served to put my whole body (physcial, spiritual and mental) under pressure – it sounds dramatic and it probably isn’t as bad as it sounds – there are many many more folks out there who are suffering in unimaginable ways…but these pressures have served to challenge my thinking, increasing my questioning of the everyday circumstances, dragging me down when things are not going the way I had planned, and distracting me from listening to God’s still, small voice of guidance, of direction and of encouragement.

On Monday night this week I had dinner with some of the folks that I am working with in Source2Resource (feel free to check out our website:  www.source2resource.net).  I also had the privilege of meeting some international visitors from South Africa (John and Kathleen Potter) and from the US (Steve and Pauline Goundry).  We had a time of bible study and prayer after the meal, and during this time, John Potter talked about a picture he had in his mind of a jet plane, which was on the verge of breaking the sound barrier.  Once the sound barrier has been broken, the aircraft can glide through the sky at break-neck speed – supersonic flow exists completely around the aircraft.  But up until that barrier is broken, the jet undergoes extreme turbulence, deep deep pressures occur putting extreme strain on the aircraft itself…and there needs to be a coming together of all the right conditions, at the right time, for the sound barrier to be broken through.  The analogy was made with our own lives – pressures, strains, extreme turbulence can get us down…choppy waters can make the journey seem very uncomfortable…but we need to stay strong, forging ahead and looking always to God – His plans, His timing, His leading are perfect…we may not understand what is happening around us…but in due course, and in His perfect will, we will break that sound barrier, we will be pushed on in our spiritual lives to continue the purposes and plans that God has called each of us to do, and our momentary trials and turbulences of life will be nothing compared with the joy and adventure of going supersonic.

A simple analogy…quite a cool picture perhaps…a challenge to me to keep trusting God through the turbulent times at present as my spiritual adventure becomes supersonic.