I’ve found myself shouting at God a lot this year.
Maybe that’s not what a trainee vicar should be doing – but that’s where I was at. Just over a year ago I left behind a city, friends and a job I love to move north to start my training – to do what I felt like God was calling me to do. But it didn’t quite work out as I imagined. I was unhappy, things were difficult, my particular training route wasn’t working out as it should have been, and even wise mentors and friends were questioning if I’d maybe heard God wrong about where to do my training!
Though I’d like to be able to say that I could see how God was bringing good out of the experience, I really couldn’t. I had no idea what He was doing. I felt let down. So I found myself shouting at God a lot – ‘I’m only trying to do as you asked! Why’s it so rubbish? What are you playing at! I came here for you! Now show up please, sort it out, show me what you’re doing!’
But despite all that, I was convinced that this was where God wanted me. A wise friend once told me: if God’s not saying anything at the moment, just keep doing the last thing he told you to do. That feeling of calling was about all I had to cling to. So I reluctantly resigned myself to pressing on.
Well, suddenly, and to my great surprise… this year things are infinitely, unbelievably better. God has come through in a way that I couldn’t even have imagined. I’m loving it. It’s not always easy, but it’s life-giving. I know I’m absolutely where I’m meant to be. And I can see what God is doing!
And what’s God got to say about that? I felt like his words to me were, ‘See! All I ask you to do is be faithful!’
The big lesson for me in all of this has been that sometimes faithfulness is enough. What God was asking of me last year was to be faithful to him – to trust him, and to believe that He would come through. I wasn’t doing faithfulness very well. I was shouting at God, not thanking him. I was grumpy, not grateful. But sometimes faithfulness, as a friend I phoned in desperation one day told me, simply means not leaving the room. That was about the extent of the faithfulness I was managing – but it was still faithfulness.
You may not be called to be a vicar, or to move away from the city you know, but we’re all called to follow Jesus. And sometimes doing that is really hard. It’s made me wonder – when we don’t see what we want to see, or things don’t work out as we think they should, what’s our response?
I stumbled across some words that a group called the Northumbria community pray every day. They make expressions of faith, ending each one with ‘today I believe’. Here’s one of my favourites:
Lord, You have always given
strength for the coming day;
and though I am weak,
today I believe.
(Read them all here – they’re great!)
Following Jesus isn’t easy. It’s hard, every day, to remember that He loves us, to trust His promises, to trust that this is the best way to live. But faith, and faithfulness, is about choosing to trust and believe every day. ‘Today I believe’ is enough. We make that choice, one day at a time. My experience since moving has brought me to a place where I can say to God, with the writer of Psalm 18, ‘to the faithful you show yourself faithful’ (Ps 18:25). We stick it out and God comes through. That’s a truth I can choose to believe each day, too.
So I’ll leave you with a couple of encouragements. Firstly, ‘the one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it’ (1 Thessalonians 5:24). And a song, for those of you who, like me, find music a helpful way to connect with God*
*With the caveat that it does definitely feel like God is delaying sometimes. But we can trust him and believe that he is coming!
One big question I’ve had recently is: Who am I? That sounds very dramatic but since returning to University I’ve had so many questions about my identity, who I am, and who God wants me to be. I’ve been struggling for a while about trusting in God’s plan and what my future holds, but recently I’ve felt God’s presence and God’s peace about this. I’m really lucky in the fact that I have some close Christian friends who are always a support and an encouragement to me, and through theirs and God’s love for me my questions about this are being answered.
I was encouraged to pray and look to my bible throughout my questioning and some verses stood out to me:
“We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.” Romans 6:6
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nation.” Jeremiah 1:5
I was struggling with my identity and my future but these verses helped me to know that we are all made in God’s image, and He created us perfectly and with a plan and a purpose. I’m not saying that all my questions have gone, but I’m beginning to realise my life is with God and in God and my identity is found in Christ alone. He loves us perfectly and unconditionally; and this love is not based on our perfection, but on Himself- because He is love. We are all fearfully and wonderfully made with our own identity; and nothing can separate us from the love of God.
“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is part of it.” 1 Corinthians 12:27