"I have been here before,
But when or how I cannot tell:
I know the grass beyond the door,
The sweet keen smell,
The sighing sound, the lights around the shore."
--Sudden Light by Dante Gabriel Rossetti
This past weekend I had the distinct and overwhelming remembrance of having been in ministry with my husband to small groups of people many, many times in our life, up until about 15 years ago when he began seminary, our life circumstances and ministry changed once again and I had to retreat/bow to the changes of his own ministry path that left me seeking God for my own.
While there were some successes that I am so happy to think about, most of the time ministry for me in the form of anything other than intercessory prayer or via long distance methods of communication has been absent from my life. There certainly has been a dearth of opportunities to minister to and with people up close and in person.
This weekend was a joyous return to the past in that sense. My husband and I shared the teaching times as he taught the theology and I shared the practical stories. We shared in the prayer times with the people who attended the seminar. As the weekend went on attendance grew and by Sunday afternoon we had responsibility to talk to a group that had grown from 5 to 18 folk. For those of you unfamiliar with the severe decline of rural Anglican church attendance even at church services, a group of 18 is reaching the category of "massive". God apparently had something he wanted said and we were delighted at the number of people who seemed to hear it.
For ourselves, we couldn't have done a less cohesive, or poorly prepared, or a less professional delivery of that seminar if we had deliberately tried. Problems arising here the day we left, the onset of a weekend of health issues for us both before we ever drove out of our own parking lot....a hassle in the suite...you name it....aiii yiiiii.....by the time we got to Saltcoats we were more than a bit distracted.
However, God did intervene as he usually does, saved us from looking like the complete fools we probably were, and allowed us to receive an invitation to do another seminar in the spring, as well as an invite for my husband to come to do the Easter Sunday Saltcoats service if my husband is able to get permission to do so. God is good, the parishioners we met in Pelly deanery were warm and welcoming to us. They provided rather spectacular meals for us, booked us into a newly renovated hotel where we had a very comfortable sleep on Saturday night, even allowed me to assist with drying dishes after the mealtimes and using that time to fellowship together. It was lovely. We felt immediately accepted and that went a long way to helping us pull some kind of useful seminar together from the wreckage of our distracted minds.
I have to confess my heart felt fulfilled for the first time in a very long time. I love talking about God. I love times of spontaneous prayer with people who want to know what God wants to do in their lives and don't mind letting people know about that desire. It was a large stream of water in the middle of a long desert experience for me. Even if it doesn't happen again for some time, it was good to be reminded that God can still use me and use my husband and I as a team to the good of his church...at least once in awhile.
That is not to denigrate the other intercessary prayer times and other longer distance contacts I have been grateful to maintain over the past 15 years, it just means that there is a particularly strong sense of fulfillment that comes when my husband and I get to work together on a specific ministry. That kind of instant acceptance by a rural prairie congregation has not been my experience in a very long time and I admit it felt very good. It was like a bit of a balm in the midst of a sea of confusion I have been swirling around in for several years.
So, if this turns out to be a one time event, that is okay. At least I know God is capable of using me for other things again if he wants to at some point in the future. I know my husband and I can still work together occasionally when asked.
The weekend has left me with a sense of inner peace I have not had for so long. It has also left both of us with the idea that preparing a set of seminars for proper presentation in the future, particularly as retirement suddenly looms, is an actual goal to work toward. God was able to use my husband's seminary education AND my lack thereof to minister to a broad range of people on the weekend. It was a special time that has us thinking ahead again and feeling more hope for the future than we have had in awhile. Maybe the people who attended this weekend were able to grasp some new ideas and make use of them to bring more satisfaction into their own spiritual lives as they learn more about trusting God in all things.
More hope for the future.....
Thank you Lord.
For sunny warm days, clear skies and dry roads for travel, I thank you Lord.