This is a letter Linda sent to a friend - take it as a New Year blessing and encouragement to you as well.
I remember you said to me a long time ago why not E-mail and so as I was composing this letter to you in bed early this morning in my sleep I knew it was important for me to write it to you.
It was such a great help to me to watch the DVD yesterday - the one that you made some time ago with Martyn and Jo about helping people to get out of debt - you spoke of caring for your mother and how you didn't always get it right and yet you knew that God had spoken to you about the honouring of parents.
Also that it was as a prophetic sign: a forerunner of what is to come and be modelled in families: relationship and peace in the family community and the working through of differences. I too have felt the requirement of very much the same.
Looking after Dad is becoming more challenging and although I have no problem in doing what I believe the Lord has asked us to do, the tensions of maintaining 'the ministry' and developing forward at the speed I am accustomed to is stressful - my fears rise that I am failing in 'the call' and am going to lose friends (of course I know my grandma's old principle - that you can't buy friendship even when you do care to help people). It's been a long time since I saw friendship without turning on the trimmings of ministry and without the high expectation of overnight revival and breakthrough.
I have continued to journal extensively yet find there is a heart cry of hope for something more and of finding that which is tangible and real. My thoughts deceive me sometimes and tell me that I am missing something such that the church portrays (yet another organisation). However I no longer feel my roots are there.
The Lord still urges me to be steadfast and settled; whatever happens I want to hold on to the wonderful promises of God and the purposes that he has spoken to Martyn and me about and trust things are still seasonal.
I find myself looking back to my roots more and more and thinking how wonderful it is where God has taken us and yet so far from where we thought we would be. The church as we know it must rediscover its God-given original purposes of intimacy in the context of meaningful relationships.
As I look at the overview of life I can see God's faithfulness and love. So it seems good to step back out of the mundane tasks and see his goodness as I write to you (by the way, my supervisor at the Nazarene College - said I was an unusual student - I think in the way that I am meticulous and in the way I write - my childhood background and schooling stands strong even when I see myself now as an adult in a totally different world).
I have just watched 'Mansfield Park' by Jane Austin and noted how long ago the ways of etiquette and kindness have been removed from our assertive society (a result of a lack of love and connectiveness at the heart). However I am aware that we are being driven in no less a corrupt world than has always existed and so we are still in desperate need of a saviour.
I met a head waiter on holiday who began to explain that his mother had kept all the family and cousins together as long as she could until she said, 'no more'. They were no longer pulling their weight and offering hospitality. He explained it was happening all over and in his country of Poland - people were no longer family - (Jesus, as you would say, spent time caring for his mother and spending time eating with his extended family). The waiter noted they no longer had the energy to socialise - they were too busy in the workplace and so instead of grouping together in restaurants they wanted to sit by themselves for a breather since they were exhausted.
Family had been strong when they had known poverty and hardship in his country so we spoke of the day coming when people would become glad of one another AGAIN. Perhaps, as I am now thinking, the Polish waiter hadn't realised that his job on the Queen Mary 2 after 16 years had become a facade. We had a really good holiday and rest but the average age on the cruise was 75 years - tired, closed down gentry (as the Queen says -those who had become lax and complacent!)
Oh God wake them up to the true valour and biblical truth that established them in God in the first place.
It seems the young are running into a closet yet desperate to find genuine love and the elderly cannot keep up with them. (We need bridgers) and those who are willing to humble themselves and serve in like manner as Jesus did (as the Queen spoke of in her Christmas speech).
Today Martyn heard of young people wanting to spend New Year at a house parties because they were tired of being ripped off at the clubs and restaurants. Hopefully an awakening to the falsehood being sold out there is occurring.
We have spent several years now ordering our finances and getting life in order for the future season. Trusting him to care for us is more critical than ever. How incredible that as I put words to paper more things become clarified and I see the helpfulness of talking to someone at this level.
Out of church Christians as you say are finding more and more the importance of real meaningful family.
You spoke wisely about God blessings coming from what he likes and not what we think is good and that he gave you courage to try new things. This last year has brought many blessings to us in meeting new people and being able to encourage and bless them; Martyn has kept The Gathering going and his KINGDOM LIFE ACADEMY has received some very positive response. Things have been ordered by God and brought surprises of his faithfulness and his sovereign intervention in our lives.
For myself I have lost energy sometimes in keeping up the momentum but have now realised this is God re-ordering my life. Listening to the DVD and your thoughts on watching God in the small things is encouraging to hear - it is how I too have known the Lord in my life but I just needed to hear it was true that the 'the ministry' isn't the be-all-and-end-all of things.
Prophetically people have said 'God is erasing you diary' for a purpose and that the Lord will lead us out from there but its not quite as easy as you think when you have lived in the public ministry for so long. My friendships have often been built on goals and expectations - probably ones I have put on myself - so I will have to let go and see what God newly initiates. Watching your DVD was therefore exceptionally timely. The children may also have to see another side of things.They are sometimes disappointed to not be able to have my help and I am torn having to let them down but Grandpa's routine is now often changing and more demanding.
Martyn is going to do some business in Kansas City next week and I need to stay home based for the following week: adapting to not much travelling is a challenge.
There is a whole new rhythm of life coming both spiritually and physically for us all to keep in step with the Spirit but it will require overcomers who will be ready to face the changes; this does not come without great adjustment as I am finding.
I have been urged by the Lord to look more closely at the book of Judges - noting that what we consider good in our eyes may not be God's way and that for the next generation's sake we need quickly to be at one in following God's best purposes for our lives and not our own bright ideas - God forgive us and get us back on track - be reconciled to him, restored and lifted back into his ordained purposes through repentance.
Father God's plan for his people was a corporate identity of Holiness - walking with him and working out his purposes in love and kindness. He provided the way through the example of Jesus walking out his life in obedience to the Father even unto death so that the power of submission before his Father (death to self) would release the power of resurrection to new life through the Spirit. The church would then become a faithful witness of Jesus and his Bride - 'deny yourself - take up your cross and follow Him'
Let go of personal expectations and step out of the driving seat!
Thank you so much for your continued love, support and kindness. Don't stop praying for us.
I will be 60 years old in February and am trusting the next stage of life is even more purposeful than the last.
Love and blessings,