Christmas comes and goes so fast, doesn’t it? I remember when I was little, and desperately looking forward to the two week school holiday over Christmas, the week leading up to Christmas seemed to drag, and the week between Christmas and New Year disappeared into about 3 days! Being someone who hated school (documented reasons in previous blogs as to why! – mostly to do with the intense bullying by the Head Teacher for simply being a left-hander!), I almost dreaded the end of Christmas Day….now, I love moving into new years, as each year, and I’m grateful to God for this, I look back and say ‘That was an amazing year! The best yet!’, and look forward expecting even more from God for the one that is almost on us….
What’s been wonderful (for me) in the last few weeks is that two couples, one couple with two young children), have felt God tell them to quit what they were doing, without letting them know – YET – what His reason is. Both were doing great jobs: one a pastor of a church, the other couple pastors of major-league trauma issues. I remember only too well when God told me to get off of the treadmill, both, in fact, at years ends – 1979 to quit my job in banking (I hate it, but then, it was a good job, so it lost me my subsidised mortgage, in an era when mortgage interest was anything from 11-13%! and, of course, lost me what was blooming into a good career prospects: I DO have my £10 a week pension waiting for me in 4 years’ time, so that should help!!): and at the end of 1983, to quit youth ministry and spend the best part of a year at a ministry training centre. Neither transition promised any source or means of income: in fact, just the opposite! Leaving the 2½% interest mortgage behind in ’79, and needing a re-mortgage (at a mere 14% interest) meant that my income zeroed, and my mortgage went up 600%! Leaving in ’83 to go to Roffey Place, meant being willing to sacrifice the house – the last house I ever owned (if being mortgaged up to the eyeballs qualifies you to say you own it!). So new years have often meant major league changes for me. I’m not aware of such ‘block-busting’ changes for 2014, but I do know that I’m going into the year with a whole new vision for what God might(?) do in Colombia, and with invitations to three new (for me) countries – Malawi, Senegal, and Burkino Faso, and a return (after a few years gap) to Sweden. Throw into that mix Mexico (maybe twice?), Colombia (possibly 4/5/6 times!), Australia (maybe twice?), and some church opportunities in England, plus France….
….so I’m excited by what’s ahead! Often, when I pray for people’s healing, I ask if they have a ‘deadline’ of any sort – hospital/consultant appointment, scan/tests, sometimes – if it’s cancer, or AIDS, how long have you got? I personally find ‘deadlines’ good, because if someone has cancer, for instance, and they have no scan scheduled, it’s hard to know… but if they DO have a scan scheduled soon, then it presents a good ‘testimony’ time for the medics! My plan this year, after an amazingly hectic, blessed, and traumatic (in a number of ways) year in 2013, is (was?) to take January off, as I’ve really gone 7 months at full tilt, and in 34 years of ministry, have never taken a ‘sabbatical’ of 3-6 months – which most pastors get every 7 years….(by that reckoning, I’m due a 30 month sabbatical – I’d go crazy!). I’ve recognised that in the (more than) 4 years that I’ve been in Ireland that I’m still learning, doing ok, at working out what this ‘rest’ thing is all about, and, amazingly, in the past 6 months or so, have even begun to learn what sleep is! I’ve never been a good bed-mate with sleep, literally, in all my previous 60 years.
And, understanding that rest is rest is vital (and very enjoyable), I thought about January, and giving my knees their own sabbatical for a few weeks, especially as now, I have a ‘deadline’. I’ve got an appointment with an orthopaedic surgeon on 23 January, when I know the ‘advice’/prognosis will be to have both of my knees replaced, not at once, of course, but maybe spread over 18 months. Truth is, they ARE getting better, slowly. There are a number of reasons why I dearly want God to heal them! The first is that, whilst mine have been bad, sometimes very bad, I’ve seen dozens of other people’s knees healed: I know that doesn’t give me any ‘leverage’ with God, but I’m hoping that I’ve stacked up some credit in the knee bank!
Second is that it would take me ‘out’ of ministry for at very least 3-6 months, for each knee, and my passion, as regular readers here will know, is to go primarily to the poor and needy and see God invade their lives, their homes, and heal them. Third, and not the least insignificant, is that it is humanly impossible to have such ‘movement-limiting’ surgery if you live on your own. Which I do. In fact, that’s perhaps the MAIN reason why I’m asking God to come up trumps in the next 3 weeks and heal them: and if anyone knows my love for what God’s called me to do, God does! So, if you feel able to, could you agree with me for the deadline to be ‘Nothing wrong, Mr Bennison!’….
And this very funny, and incredibly profound joke, which I put on Facebook the other day, for those who only get the blog emailed!
I do hope and pray that you have a good New Year, and that your own hopes, dreams, and goals will find fulfilment in the coming months. ‘Without vision, the people perish’ (Proverbs 29:18 KJV)…so if you’ve got no dreams for 2014, or vision, you’ve still got 36 hours to get one from the Lord!
Thank you for reading here in the 8 months this new site has been up and running. I really do appreciate it, it makes it so well worth writing it! Bless you loads in 2014!