Climbing up the mountain 

I had an argument with God recently, a full foot stomping tantrum. I’ve never done that before but I was awash in feelings of frustration and annoyance. 

I wanted to know why, as I follow what I think he is showing me and calling me to do, is it sometimes such a heartache. Why do I feel sometimes like I am wading through mud, why is it that I always feel like I’m on the outside looking in wherever I go, will there ever be a place where I feel at home. I finished with threatening to walk away, from my new role, from church, leaving my pierced heart at the vestry door and throwing away the key.

The day after, still embracing my stubbornness my mind remained silent, I was giving God the silent treatment, how childish of me!!!!!! I picked up my phone and mindlessly opened Facebook, the first post on my timeline was something shared by a very secular friend from a women’s ordination support group. Nice try I thought, and I continued my day off to uni. I could not concentrate, the lecture was long and dull, and yet a nagging feeling to share my thoughts on how I was feeling was building to an almost annoying crescendo. One long garbled email later I felt better. I still was sulking with God, but I felt brighter. 

Throughout the day he prodded me, until I finally gave up in Marks and Spencer’s food hall. I felt exhausted and as I stood gazing over at the bread counter I heard the music from a speaker above me booming “you’ve got a friend in Jesus”. 

I laughed and smiled.

I was reading a book this morning “To be a pilgrim” by Basil Hume that sparked off the memory of my tantrum with God. A passage really hit home with me with how I’d been feeling, in the section “As we climb the mountain” Hulme describes Elijah on the run from his pursuers growing weary, not just physically but through the burden of life. He calls out “Lord, I have had enough” and goes to sleep. As he slept an angel touched him and told him to eat the food that was there for him. He eventually got up and ate, and it sustained him for forty days and nights. 

How amazing that God comes with a message when we need it and brings us nourishment. I hadn’t planned to come to communion on Wednesday this week but God was certain that I should go, I asked him if I needed to because I was overwhelmed with uni work, but he said go.

So I went and found I was able to be Lay assistant for the first time. As I stood their feeling so very humbled that I could assist in this way I realised that here was my nourishment sent from God, enough to fuel me and keep me going through all the ups and downs.

“From time to time we feel like the prophet Elijah. The temptation is to lie down and sleep, protected by that sleep from getting too involved in the life of the church, or so downcast and overburdened by difficulties of life that I can go on no further. There is always a messenger from God, an angel to nudge us: ‘Eat and drink. Receive the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist, for there is the food which will help you to walk forty days and nights, and more to the mountain of God” (Hume.1984.p41)

Feed my lambs

I often like to daydream about scripture, I like to imagine what it would feel like to mingle with the disciples as they were led by Jesus. I’ve been travelling through John’s gospel, and if you could have a favourite this would be mine. 

Coming to the end of John’s Gospel we see the disciples out fishing in a boat. As I read I wonder if they were thinking about the other times Jesus had come to them in a boat. I imagine the memories that they would share and how they must miss his daily company. I think about how they must have felt pulling up the empty net time and time again through the night. 

I often think about that initial hit of disappointment when something doesn’t turn out the way you want it to, I myself feel that slump, but quickly after is a cry out to Jesus. Did the disciples feel the same as they pulled up that empty net? Did they all feel the emptiness of Jesus not physically being there, did they cry out to him in their prayers?

At dawn, breaking through the darkness, suddenly Jesus was there, watching over their frustration, giving guidance and as they followed a full net of fish was provided. Imagine their joy!!! They knew it was Jesus without even asking because he brought them that relief, that hope, that comfort only he can bring.

Simon Peter does what I would have done, got dressed, scrambled over the side of the boat and jumped in the water swimming to the shore, leading with his heart not his head. Soon we see the disciples are sharing food with Jesus, his gift to us to remember him by. A dawn fish beach BBQ with Jesus sounds great to me!

Yesterday my husband took our children and I to his friend’s farm. We walked about the misty hills of Saddleworth feeding his sheep and lambs, it was such a privilege and his friend is a great shepherd. I watched as he picked up lambs who had wandered away, and I smiled as they trotted towards us ready for their feed. It was lovely to be shepherds for a few hours and after all the children were tucked up into bed, and I was just about to go to sleep I remembered this passage: 

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’
‘Yes, Lord,’ he said, ‘you know that I love you.’
Jesus said, ‘Feed my lambs.’ 
Again Jesus said, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’
He answered, ‘Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.’
Jesus said, ‘Take care of my sheep.’ 
The third time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ 
He said, ‘Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.’
Jesus said, ‘Feed my sheep. 
John 21:15-17

I love how scripture and life can overlap without consciously realising. Jesus is with us even if we at first don’t recognise him, his guidance can fill our lives like the disciple’s full fishing net. If we stop and we listen, his calling is there for all of us to hear.