The last few weeks have been somewhere between a challenge and a struggle. ‘Challenge’ is too soft a word, life itself is a challenge, and ‘struggle’ seems quite melodramatic; people in war torn countries face a struggle. My experience of the last few weeks, as a pioneer minister, trying to work with others to create something new is somewhere in between.
A combination of things last week got me thinking about this in a different way. Last week I watched Run Fat Boy Run. I always keep an eye on the 9pm film on Film 4 to see if it was worth watching, and I had not seen this film before. I quite like Simon Pegg and so I thought I’d take time out to watch.
In the film, Dennis Doyle (played by Pegg) decides to run a marathon. Dennis ‘runs’ most of the race injured and then ‘hits the wall’. In the film we see an actual wall that only Dennis can see. He is exhausted and everything within him tells him to stop. He cannot see any way around the wall. He could climb it but does not have the energy. He could knock it down but does not have the energy. he starts to believe that the wall will defeat him. He remembers his training, listens to the encouraging voices around him and finds the energy within himself to start to believe again and the wall starts to crumble.
As someone who used to run a lot in the past I remember the wall. It was that time when everything started to hurt, breathing became difficult, you wanted to give up and yet you knew that you just needed to carry on for a while and you would receive your second wind and be able to carry on as if the wall was never there. In fact the worst thing to do would be to stop as starting again would be incredibly difficult. In running, hitting the wall is a time when many drop out.
Each week I send my diary to an amazing group of people who pray for me throughout the week. As I was writing that last night I shared with my friends how I was feeling disheartened by events being slow (for example yesterday there were only 6 people at the gathering) and how I was struggling with being in the same places every day on my own. I have now been going out alone for 22 months. I guess I thought that by now I would have developed a bit of a team or found some allies. But I have not. I also shared I don’t know where to go, or what to do next, because I don’t.
A I wrote the words to my prayerful friends the image of Dennis at the wall hit me full on in an epiphany moment sort of way. I believe God speaks through film and I wonder whether I was receiving some Divine insight to what has been going on within me over the last few weeks.
If there is a wall in mission terms then I think I might have hit it.
I can tell you it hurts.
I have a strong desire to sit down and just call it a day.
I think I have stopped expecting to see God do things.
That’s not so difficult to do when you do pretty unspectacular things all day. I’m tempted to go away and do something easier.
But I won’t.
It’s not because I am great or good at what I do.
It’s not even because I am stubborn!
It’s because I can’t stop.
I can’t stop because deep down, I know this is what God wants me to be doing.
I know this is what I am here for.
I hope my waiting will pay off.
I hope the gathering will grow.
But I guess it doesn’t actually matter if it doesn’t.
Because (to repeat myself) I know this is where God wants me as this time.
I don’t know how I know that.
I can’t really explain it in words I can understand myself.
But it is my reality.
This is my calling.
Somehow, and someway, I need to keep going. I guess I need to keep praying, keep waiting, keep looking and see who God brings along my path. I need to hold on to what I know and keep that prophetic looking and re-imagining of how things could be rather than simply accepting how things are.
If I accept how they are the wall just grows and grows and becomes the object of concern. If I continue to re-imagine and dream then the creativity and vision of opportunity from God, rather than the obstacle of the wall, focuses the attention.
I do hope, though, that there is someone to walk on this journey with on the other side of the wall – it’s getting quite lonely!