After a week of persevering with walking, and beginning some step work, this weekend I visited ‘Together at Westpoint’, a gathering of Newfrontiers churches in the South and West of the UK. If last week’s visit to Newday was significant mainly because of my previous involvement with the event, this visit was significant because of the people attending the event itself. Over the years I have spent time in three of the twenty or so churches represented, so ‘home’ for me feels more like a region than a town. As churches from across that region gathered, I expected to feel at home.
My friend Guy was hosting the event and has, like many of you, been so faithful in responding to updates day by day, encouraging me to keep going week by week, month by month.
We arrived partway through the Friday night meeting. I knew, as we entered the room, that here were hundreds of people who have supported me in prayer, even in the darkest days when it looked like my very life was on the line. Although I expected to see hundreds of familiar faces, I wasn’t ready for the whirlwind of greetings and welcome that followed. You are an amazing crowd!
One of the key ways in which God has impacted me since the beginning of this illness, is the beauty of the Church as it rallies around those in need. It’s the sort of beauty that has inspired me to give up years of my life to serve the Church in the past, and that beauty appears all the more radiant throughout an experience like this. It is an amazing thing to know the prayers of God’s Church behind you – still more amazing to have the privilege of tangibly seeing and hearing their support, as I did this weekend. I’m so thankful for the experience – it really spurs me on to keep persevering.
The weekend helped me to see afresh a picture bigger than just my own life, a picture in which not I, but Jesus is the central figure. How amazing that I fit into that picture; God’s picture. I found one of the songs sung this weekend (by Matt Giles) so helpful in reminding me of this:
I was a stranger to the promise of God, but I was purchased through the blood of His Son.
It is a work not of my own, so that I should never boast.
I see the gospel is much bigger than me, more than a rescue plan to help in my need.
It is a plan for all of time, to unite all things in Christ:
For Your glory, I’m saved to the praise of Your glory;
Jesus, for Your glory, I’m saved by the grace for Your glory.
(Full song available to download here)
I was tremendously blessed by the weekend – encouraged and strengthened for the road ahead through the worship and the preaching. A particular highlight for me was meeting or hearing of children who have been full of persistence and faith in their prayers for my recovery. They are an inspiration!
So I start this week fresh with faith and enthusiasm to tackle the road immediately ahead:
• With just over two weeks until discharge from hospital, we’ll be doing lots of work on walking and steps – please pray for strength and continued nerve repair.
• On Wednesday we have another Goal Planning Meeting with the hospital staff. Please pray for appropriate goals to be set for my final stint as an in-patient.
• On Friday Mum and Dad will be joining myself and some therapists at the local pool. The aim is to enable me to confidently access the pool after discharge. I have found swimming to be a really helpful form of therapy and exercise, so I’m keen that it goes well this week so I can get swimming in my own time.
I am thankful for a week during which progress appears to have been rapid, sandwiched between two weekends which have in themselves been such a tremendous blessing.
I’m also thankful for you, the people who are praying with us for all these things. Some of you I have never met, yet we are all connected in God’s big picture. In your standing with us you are bringing Him glory!