Like me, I’m sure you can still remember back to this week one year ago today. There was still not very much known about the coronavirus, and a lot of anxiety and panic surrounding what it was all going to mean. Only the Sunday before, we had had no idea that would be the last Sunday we could all be able to gather together as a fellowship for over a year.

We quickly had to shift towards working from home, and try to also get our heads around what worshipping at home (exclusively!) was going to look like. Tim and I launched into a crash course in live-streaming on youtube (sometimes with hilarious effects), and we all sought to support each other as best we knew we how.

One of the things that also got launched was this blog, making the 17th of March 2020 our first blog-day! Since then, blogs have come in various different shapes and sizes; and even, at times, from some great “Guest Bloggers” too! They’ve found their way onto our podcast channel too, which has also benefitted with the extra attention we’ve given it over the last twelve months. But in all of that, I really hope it’s been a helpful place for us to reflect biblically together on the unfolding saga of this pandemic, and provide some sort of a catalyst for further thinking, reading, praying and ultimately, believing.

 

For me personally, it’s genuinely been a real pleasure and a privilege. I’ve always enjoyed writing, but the special focus on it this year has been something I feel I’ve really benefitted from in all kinds of unexpected ways.

I don’t know about you, but I’m someone who works best on inspiration rather than routine; and so more recently I’ve tried to blog as and when ideas strike rather than stick to a grueling schedule. For me, this allows space for ideas to both flow and grow.

 

Love the words!

DYLAN THOMAS

 

There are times when the process of blogging produces a deep sense of discovery or unexpected connection. Things I start out to write about take a slightly new direction, or change shape entirely. Seeing the words written down, and worked over, opens up new meanings and possibilities.

One of my favourite authors, C.S. Lewis once described the creative process in this way:

I do not sit down at my desk to put into verse something that is already clear in my mind. If it were clear in my mind, I should have no incentive or need to write about it. We do not write in order to be understood; we write in order to understand.

LETTER TO A YOUNG POET

And in a small way, I feel like I’ve discovered something of that “writing to understand” through blogging my way through the past twelve months.

 

God is always speaking, and the blog has been a very personal way in which I’ve tried to listen more. And then there are moments, when words have just seemed to flow, and I’ve sat back in chair and reread them, and thought: “God, only You know where that just came from.”  Of course, it can’t always be quite like that – but there have been very special moments along the way.

 

Now, at this point you’re probably starting to wonder why I’m telling you all this(!).

Well, there are two reasons in my mind. Firstly, to say thank you! Thank you for listening, thank you for encouraging, and thank you for just sharing the journey with me. I’ve thought many, many times over the years about starting a blog, (there’s been quite a few occasions where I’ve got as far as signing up for one – usually around January 1st!) but this whole strange scenario has pushed me to actually get on and do it.

When you start out doing something new, there’s often those voices inside your head telling you it won’t work, or you’re being silly, or it’ll all come to nothing. We all need others around us to drown out those voices with words of genuine encouragement, hopeful support, and concerned guidance. Thank you for all the times when you’ve been those voices in so many ways.

 

And secondly, I want to encourage you to write too.

The other meaningful thing for me has been how keeping a blog has helped me to track where I am. As I look back over the blog (today’s is number 137 believe it or not!), I can see something of the spiritual journey we’ve been on too:

  •  Some of the major moments that have spoken me, or given me pause to reflect.
  •  Phrases that keep repeating themselves, seemingly all by themselves
  •  Scriptures that I’ve returned to again and again
  •  Underlying heart-cries, longings and prayers
  •  Phrases that keep repeating themselves, seemingly all by them… wait a minute(!)…

I.e. – things that are going on, under the surface, that we all too often don’t pay the necessary attention to.

 

Not everyone likes the thought of “journaling” (which, admittedly, is very different to blogging) but there are simple ways to begin.

My grandad used to keep a small diary, but all it really entailed was a couple of phrases at most each day. (For example, there is one Christmas we remember by his simple phrases: “Haze (my mum) has made amazing meals this Christmas! Really enjoyed them. Russ (my uncle) had a heart attack yesterday.” – talk about getting your priorities straight!). But as we’ve looked back these simple words and phrases have become like ‘markers’ in time for us as a family and neatly capture something of grandad’s story and ours.

 

Some people have a simple app on their phone, others use a “sentence-a-day journal”, some prefer to record voice memos… The point is, whatever it is, we all need ways to look back at where we’ve been to understand where we are, and where we are going.

 

One of the blogs I wrote last summer was about a morning and evening prayer routine, and a number of people fed back that the process of inviting God to speak to them in the morning, and then spiritually reviewing the day in the evening, helped them over a period of time to experience God’s speaking and leading “in real time” – i.e. throughout the day too.

The blogging journey has helped me reflect regularly in similar ways, and possibly there are ways that some form of journaling may well help all of us to listen more intentionally and sensitively to the what the Spirit is saying to the church.

 

So, how about you? What has helped you to listen to God through this strange and crazy time?

 

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Thank you all again for all the ways we’re keeping connected and communicating!

I ended that first blog with these words, and though much has changed, I still feel the same:

“If you are self-isolating, or know those who are, please do keep in touch so we can pray for and support all those who are feeling the most vulnerable at this time. Above all – let us keep our eyes on Jesus – the Author and Finisher of our faith, the Hope of our Salvation and the Healer of the Broken Hearted.

Loads of love in Him!

Jon.”

 

 

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