Happy new year! Rite and I have just enjoyed a wonderful advent season, the first in Calgary, our new home. During an advent message at church, we focused on Mary the mother of Jesus who is at the centre of the Christmas story. She was on a predictable journey in her simple life living in Nazareth as a teenage girl, preparing for marriage with Joseph. That simple life however, was suddenly disrupted by a visit from the angel Gabriel, who brought a message that would make a momentous change to that simple, predictable existence. Mary welcomed the news with amazing trust and commitment. I am sure she was aware of what people would say when she told them she was pregnant as a virgin. Her family, friends and her synagogue would have questions, as her life was set on a new trajectory which wasn’t going to be straightforward. Yet God was with her. And with that knowledge she accepted her calling with courage.
I wonder if you can relate to Mary in some way. Has your life had an unexpected disruption? In my experience, these occasions are where we grow the most if we can meet God in the midst and are aware that he is with us too.
Since December 2017, when we had a discernment process into what our future would hold, we have experienced a state of continuous disruption. That’s not necessarily bad but it has required some grace – closing the successful ministry of a retreat centre, moving to the centre of town, coming down with Covid, adapting our training to online, applying for Canadian residency, packing up and leaving Europe to move to B.C., Canada, then moving again to Calgary, being joined by our son and his fiancé and wondering what’s next!
Of course, sometimes we can try to avoid the disruption and stay comfortable in the situation that we know: a place of security, or a role that we can almost do without thinking. But staying comfortable for too long is not good for us. We need to be stretched. We need new challenges to grow, therefore disruption is a key part of our future. When disruption does occur, we are thrown onto our knees. Our future is put into question, our sense of rhythm challenged and we can feel isolated; we suddenly lack a sense of identity and perhaps become fearful of what we are going to do. Disruption taken in our stride is able to take us to a place of prayer where we become more dependent on God than ever before. It is important to note that when we sensed God bring the prophetic disruption to ourselves, we gave a whole-hearted ‘yes’ to it. Some of our disruptions are not prophetic or from God, but simply happen without our conscious agreement. God is still able to give us grace, enabling each experience to be a growth opportunity.
Saul was persecuting the early church believers as a violent aggressor when he experienced a major prophetic disruption on the road to Damascus. That experience thrust him into a new phase of his life. He met Jesus, was thrown into a major transition of worldview and humbled by his huge blind spots. Then he found himself in conflict with Christians who didn’t trust that he became transformed from one day to the next. So off he went into the wilderness, where I assume he worked on his theology, trying to understand what had just happened to him and how the Jewish world was about to change. Barnabas disrupted his solitude and brought him to Antioch to be involved in a truly diverse group of believers. Disruption again as the Holy Spirit called him and Barnabas into their first missionary journey. From that time on there was total disruption from one town to the next.
I believe we need some disruption in our lives on a regular basis and that a part of our ministry is causing a certain disruption to everyone we meet! I was serving at a stampede breakfast that our church put on for the community last summer and got into a conversation with a man probably in his sixties. He grew up in a Christian home but when he shared that he was gay, his parents made him attend counselling where he received gay conversion therapy. He shared as if it was yesterday that he received the electric shock treatment and weekly counselling sessions which had no effect other than to turn him into a rebel. He has lived a life of conflict and being marginalised so his question to me was, ‘Am I welcome at your church?’ His disruption is the challenge to enter a community where he fears how people will respond to him.
I was invited by my daughter to a gathering of her friends at the local beach where we enjoyed friendly conversation, watching the children have fun and eating our picnics together. One of her friends is on her third bout of cancer and is just twenty-seven. She was on week five of the strongest chemotherapy possible. Talk about disruption to a young life that has been turned upside down, not by the Lord but because we live in a fallen world and sad things happen to people living in it.
What does 2023 have in store for us? Covid 19 has disrupted our lives and lifestyle for several years and I have an inkling that there is more disruption yet to come. So, my encouragement to you is to embrace the new year with courage and expectancy. Invite the Holy Spirit to disturb your days in a positive way to bring about the best possible opportunities to live that abundant life in the kingdom he has invited us into. A kingdom of adventure, challenge and love.
Until next month