In the lovely little village church at Ancroft, Northumberland yesterday, we were led in worship by Bishop John Pritchard, formerly Bishop of Oxford. His easy manner and use of anecdotes reminded me of the late Revd David Watson, another great teacher and preacher.
The bishop’s sermon, based upon Romans 8. 38-39 was inspired:-
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, (he continued . . .neither job loss, or climate change, or war, or depression . .) shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
As he spoke a problem, that I had been mulling over for quite a while now, was solved in an instant. It was quite a revelation.
You see I have been trying to respond for over a year now, to a comment someone made about a book that I had been writing ever since Lockdown began in March 2020; about my experience of faith in life. (The document had grown to 158,000+ words)
So it was suggested to me, ‘Why not condense your story, and concentrate on the faith part, and make it more accessible, because people don’t want to read a book this size?”
Taking their advice, I began the enormous task of chipping away at my recollections, trying to draw out the ‘faith parts’ within it, and I kept failing time after time, and then starting all over from the beginning, because I was so muddled up.
The whole project had become a burden, never coming to completion. Also, a shadow of frustration was hanging over me, I had so many other things I needed to do, and this task was constantly at the back of my mind.
I suddenly realized, as the bishop preached, that for me to separate my faith from my life, was akin to separating the warp from the weft of a finished piece of weaving! To me, God, who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, was on every single page, for He has been my constant Provider, my Comforter, my Counsellor, my Guide, and my closest Friend.
So that very afternoon, I began in earnest, to publish my book on Facebook straight away; one chapter every day, and now I’m really excited once more about it.
But, my excitement doesn’t end there. A friend recommended a website to me today, whereby I might be able to connect with Christian writer and poet, Kate Compston to obtain copyright permission for the use of one of her prayers in an upcoming VJ service, and lo and behold, when I opened this site, the Green Christian website:
https://greenchristian.org.uk/weaver-god/ I was absolutely astonished to find another of Kate’s poems entitled the ‘Weaver God’, in which she mentions ‘warp and weft and weaving!’
Was this not a timely God coincidence? I was amazed and greatly encouraged. I felt affirmed and back on track!
God who provides for us and sustains us, when we’re about his business, sees that we are well-supplied and encouraged on our spiritual journey. He also disciplines us gently, when we’re on the wrong road!
Might I just add, there’s no greater joy and satisfaction, than fully exploring and utilizing a God-given gift, whatever that gift may be? Let’s not settle for the mundane, or duty, or what is expected of us for life is far too short.
What gift(s) have you been given, and is it (are they) being fully utilized?
Do you feel, as Eric Liddell, Olympic athlete, and missionary, once did? God’s joy and pleasure when you run?
I’m already discovering that by publishing this way, on Facebook, readers have begun to add their own little snippets of history each day too, which is amazing, it is as if we’re all writing this book together; also they can dip in and out whenever they want to. I can also give ‘live links’ to my songs, just like this one.
I hope to publish my book one chapter every day, on my website too, www.sheilahamil.co.uk for those who don’t use Facebook, so that should be happening soon. It’s called:
“Put the hoover down, go into the bedroom, and pray!” Here is the first chapter:
PUT THE HOOVER DOWN, GO INTO THE BEDROOM, AND PRAY
by Sheila Hamil
Chapter One: EARLY BEGINNINGS
Does God really speak to people today?
I have to speak out and say, “Yes he does!”
The very first time it happened my experience, words came to me, which said:-
“Put the hoover down, go into the bedroom, and pray!”
These words came loud and clear to my mind, completely out of the blue, during my lunch break in the flat we rented, right next door to the school where I first worked as a teacher, the Buddle School Wallsend.
I remember it as if it were yesterday. Where did these words in my head come from? Was it simply my imagination or my wishful thinking?
Or could these words actually be from God, inviting me to pray? On the other hand, were such words really the kind of language an eternal, all-knowing, all-powerful God would use to get someone’s attention? I ask you?
I very much doubted it, at that point in my life. And as for an opening line, these words seemed bizarre, bordering on trivial; surely my mind was playing tricks?
So I continued hoovering the carpet. A few seconds later; again quite out of the blue, that same command came to me again . . .
“Put the hoover down, go into the bedroom, and pray!”
I stood still for a moment, reasoning that if this really was God, shouldn’t he, at least, put in a few thees or thous? Or should there not be a more special place to call someone to than our bedroom, next to my little kitchen?
But then again, wasn’t this the way God spoke to people in times of old, when people were doing some mundane task, and their brains weren’t particularly active; such as when Elijah was hanging out in a cave, hiding, or when Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress, or when Peter was out fishing?
I dismissed the words for a second time, for I was just an ordinary person, and not important enough for God to address the likes of me, and so, once more, I carried on hoovering the carpet, so everything would be spick and span by the time my husband got home. I turned my thoughts to making a rice pudding once school was over.
But then a third time that voice sounded out in my inner conscience.
“Put down the hoover, go into the bedroom, and pray!”
This time the words seemed more emphatic, more urgent.
“Oh my goodness,” I thought, “Now I’m hearing voices! First signs of going crazy!”
And yet . . .I seemed to sense that if I ignored the command this time, I wouldn’t hear this voice again.
So, with feelings of both curiosity and annoyance, I flicked the Hoover switch to the off position. “All right then, I’m going!” I said, for by that time I was in a bit of a ‘strop’, and anyway I didn’t have all that much time left of my lunch hour, but I stomped into the bedroom, and I knelt down to pray by the blanket box, which was in front of the main window, thinking. ‘I’ve got to give this a try! What harm will one little prayer do anyway?’
What came out must have sounded irreverent, I remember saying out loud: “Right, you’ve got me here, now what is it you want? God?” (Adding the word ‘God’ on at the end, was my way, at least, of showing some respect.)
What happened next was THE pivotal moment of my entire life, a complete shift in the direction of my life, and everything familiar was about to change. God was about to make himself known to me!
All this occurred to me a few months after my ‘Baptism in the Spirit’ at Elvet Methodist Church in Durham at a Charismatic Day of Renewal. But more of that later.
You see the all-important question for the world is not, does God still speak to us today, but are we listening to Him when He does?
I once heard it said that when Joan of Arc was questioned at her trial, by one of her judges, he asked her. “Why should God speak to you and not to me?’ She replied by saying,
“He speaks to everyone, but not everyone is listening!’
Now I’m no Joan of Arc, but at least I was listening. He had my full attention!
But let me first go back to where life began.
Chapter Two: I am born: (TO BE CONTINUED)
Photo: Weave by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels
Join Christine Sine for one or all of her three seasonal retreats: Rhythms & Seasons, A Season of Gratitude, and An Advent Quiet Day. Save the dates – September 2nd, October 14th, and December 9th at 9:30-12:30.