Probably not unlike many others, I have found myself growing increasingly tired of lockdowns, of working from home and not being able to make fun weekend plans or see close friends in other places. It often feels to me like we just need to wait for this time to be over and for life to be filled with excitement again. And we obviously do need to wait for many of the joys and freedoms that we so easily take for granted to return. But I have also been reminded through different elements of Intern teaching this week that this time of waiting does not have to be a time that is wasted.
Firstly, in our School of Theology session on Mission Studies, we talked about the missio dei, the mission of God – the idea that God is at work in this world and that we are called to join Him in that. I, and I suspect I am not the only one, often see mission as something we do for God and centre it around myself and my own actions rather than around God. In a video we watched, there was a challenge to “listen, notice, and stay”; to explore what God is already doing in a place or a situation and to then start participating in His work. Perhaps, we can use this time in which our normal ways of “doing mission” are disrupted to pray and listen and think about how we can get involved in God’s work and prepare for that.
A second challenge this week came from a discussion on what it means to “go deep” with God in a teaching session on spiritual disciplines. Most of us, myself included, probably tend to see our own outwardly visible actions and the actions of others as signs of growth and maturity and of God’s work in our lives. But just like a healthy tree needs deep – but largely hidden – roots to survive storms and other crazy weather conditions, we need to invest into a deep and intimate relationship with God in order to sustain our ministry, particularly in times that can shake up our faith. I wonder if being stripped, at least to some extent, of our ability to take action actually frees us up to contemplate God’s beauty, pour out our hearts to Him in prayer and seek Him in ways that are hidden to the people around us.
I have been encouraged this week to try and make the most of this time of waiting which, whilst being difficult in many ways, might have more value than we now imagine in the years to come.