As I’ve been reflecting on the unexpected journey that we’ve all been on so far in this year, I’ve been recalling how many of us had been moving towards the year 2020 with a great sense of anticipation that it would be a wonderful year of hope and vision. Many churches and organisations had established plans under headings such as ‘2020 Vision’ or something similar and some individuals had developed personal plans for their own spiritual development through this year. We had great ideas about what we might be able to achieve and, in many cases, a real sense of being led by God into those plans. We were no different in GB, as we continued to develop our ways of working and our hopes for the future.
However, we now all find ourselves in a place where we didn’t expect to be. Many of us are confined to our homes far more than we’d like, we can’t gather together for worship, in our GB groups or indeed for any reason at all, we’re fearful about our health, we’re anxious about the future of our GB group, we’re struggling with the lack of physical contact with each other, we’re not able to celebrate birthdays, weddings, anniversaries or the lives of our loved ones in the way that we’d hope – we’re not where we expected to be and we’re not where we wanted to be.
In Acts Chapter 27 we read of how the apostle Paul and others set out for Rome, where he was due to be tried by Caesar, but eventually the strength of the wind and the consequential adverse sailing conditions meant that a different course had to be followed. Eventually the boat was shipwrecked on the island of Malta – they weren’t where they expected or wanted to be.
Yet, in the weeks and months that followed, the apostle Paul was able to exercise a healing ministry amongst the islanders and many miracles were performed. All of this ultimately resulted in Malta becoming one of the first Roman colonies to completely convert to Catholicism.
Because of the storm of the Covid-19 pandemic, many of us now find ourselves exercising ministry, leading our GB groups, sharing our faith and helping our neighbours in places that we didn’t expect, in ways we hadn’t anticipated and amongst people that we perhaps didn’t expect to. We have been reminded, if we needed reminding, that God is so much bigger than all of our plans and dreams. His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts.
So, while some of our original hopes and dreams for this month or this year might have been dashed, I wonder what new and surprising things God might be doing in you, through you and around you? What’s happening simply because you’re in a place where you didn’t expect or want to be? What wonderful new things is God doing which may be even greater than our original plans?
Maybe you’ve found new technological skills that you didn’t know you had as you try to keep in touch with everyone? Maybe you’re now in touch with girls and their parents even more than you might have been before? Maybe your church has seen the work that you’re doing with young people with renewed enthusiasm? Maybe new young people are joining in with activities that you’ve been able to provide online? Maybe the rest from physically meeting each week has given you time to think and pray more and draw closer to God? Maybe the space has given you time to imagine how you might do things differently when the lockdown is over?
Even in our disappointment and disorientation, God is able to do new things so, please, do continue to look for those signs of encouragement and hope that are there to be found. In the meantime, thank you so much for all you’re doing to stay in touch with, pray for, encourage and support all the girls, young women and leaders in your groups. It’s really appreciated. And, if you have a good story to share about what God is doing or how your prayers are being answered, I’m sure the GB staff team would love to hear it, so that your story can be shared and we can all be encouraged by your experience and praise God together even while we’re apart.