Article 4 - The Inheritance of Loss Print
Thursday, 16 April 2009

Fragmented Silence

As I think about this subject, I realise I need space around me. I have had a busy day and, like a boiling pot, my mind bubbles away . . . uselessly. I am running on the momentum of the day's energy and my mind is hijacked by noisy chatter. Like a broken mirror, my thinking is fragmented, reflecting many confusing images at the same time.

One of my better solutions for a distracted mind is to . . . walk. Yes! I walk slowly, preferably among greenery, with an occasional tree and a hint of water. Slowly I recover my place in the rhythm of nature which is more in tune with a falling leaf than a speeding train. For it was in the cool of the evening that Adam, the man of earth, heard the sounds of Divinity. Eden has imprinted its indelible image within us. It is that precious, internal place of quiet where we begin to hear again the eternal voice behind the universe.

Our Surreal World

This evening I have chosen to climb a small hill overlooking the sea. The sun, in deep orange dress, takes its final bow on the stage of the western horizon. The sea ripples back its warm glow. A rising mist makes the distant hills look detached from the land. The superficial 'chatter' of my mind quietens and I begin to overhear sounds in the silence that descends around me. The incoming tide has its own distinct sound, never the same on any occasion. I doubt if it could be imitated. It causes excitement among the smallest creatures on the shoreline.

In the day's final moments, when images of light crumble and hard lines of landscape soften, our world draws back its curtains on the mystery of surreal beauty. It is that holy fragment of time, when imagination becomes the pathway of the spirit and, in a sound that composers have forever sought to capture, the physical and the spiritual loose their ties.

As the sun sinks, its afterglow permeates the air. The seagulls make their way to their roosting place and I to the pathway home . . . my spirit restored. Nature has again shared its beloved tapestry of humanity in a weave of the spiritual and physical, held in delicate symmetry but which, from time to time, needs its fine balance adjusted and sense of wholeness restored. This is the reason for the subject of my article.

A Pilgrimage to Wales

It is a Korean, Asian-based, team that has occupied my time for the past weeks. For after the wear of pioneering years, they, too, need to walk slowly and hear again the strains of Divine whisper that follow the earthquake and the fire. I admire their courage, for more than twenty of them, including their children, have made the journey back to Wales where some spent their years of preparation. Our days together are a sacred gift, washed by tears of renewed friendships. The natural inhibition of the young, each a petal of them own colour adds to the quality and pleasure of the time.

This team represents a far wider mission force, based in the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia, China, Korea and Europe. I am particularly encouraged by them for, what every missionary leader in his spirit understands, is that he needs them more than they need him. For without them, he would have no purpose in life and no reason to exist. Their success is his only credential.

Imperceptibly age has changed them, so has their increased range and depth of experience which has often pressured their decisions against their inclination. Even after their short, initial field years, their new recruits rise from a population apprenticed to a momentum of change, in which they already begin to feel strangers. Recruits that will soon expect their own space to develop which may only be possible through the restriction of their vision.

The cultures of their host countries are also changing. Where slow progress has been the order of the past century, now deep changes are being compressed into a short space of time.

Our world is also undergoing dramatic change. Western nations are being pushed towards the edge of impotence by the rise of the new superpowers; Communist China, Russia and India. Today's mission force may, apart from its core beliefs, have to reinvent itself every five years if it is to stay relevant and to continue to demonstrate that threads of divine intention are woven into their ways.

So together we attempt to understand both what the local and world identity of the team should be; local to meet the changing conditions of residency and effective discipling; world so that the team can be seen to have a continuity of meaningful existence and good communication with the believing, praying world.

Sovereignty is at work for us, though we do not always recognise it. Sometimes we consciously know His presence in a close partnership. Yet there are periods when shadow seems to surround Him and He is silent. Then we will need the courage to accept pain of loss and to believe He is not silent but speaking loudly through our trust in Him. Perhaps it also is in the cloistered dark of shadow that true missionary greatness awaits to be found.

Seedbed . . . natural law in the spiritual world

Sixteen years of preparation, through changing circumstances and five years of solitary prayer, refined my request to one sentence: “O Lord, give me your work to do.” Yet, like Hannah in her prayer for Samuel, the most profound change also took place when, in despair for answer, my prayer changed to “O Lord, give me your work to do that I may give it back to you.” Though at that point my most cherished hope of becoming a lone missionary died, unknown to me, my prayer request had reached the level of God's answer, and the route to destiny lay open. It was an unimagined pathway to the fulfilment of my personal dream and the beginning of my understanding of the inheritance of loss.

'Seedbed' has its reason to exist in the purpose rather than the practice of the Holy Spirit, at His coming, indicated in Joel 2 and Acts 2. Ordinary people created from common clay carry the impress of Divinity so have the capacity to receive the dream or vision which enables them to take personal ownership of their future. So Seedbed is a practical experience which highlights the growth of dream and helps interpret both its obvious and hidden aspects.

We meet together as friends without the form of a religious meeting. We do not make right or wrong judgements of each other, but willingly unite together by a common desire to help each other find a better way of working.

To help those, who are just awakening to the call of their dream, visualise the place of natural law in the spiritual world, a seed tray is filled with fine earth. As individual dreams are falteringly spoken out, together we receive them and symbolically plant a seed. Usually, after a week, with unbelievable energy in the darkness of the soil, root growth begins to take place. In two weeks the first sign of a shoot appears . . . exactly as the Master discipler predicted. “All by itself, the soil produces grain.” Similarly, the soil of the human heart is the right place to nurture the seed of dream or vision.

To the untrained eye it is difficult to identify the new shoots, so wrong conclusions are often made. Eventually, each will develop its own distinctive. We, too, follow a similar pathway. God is already at each new frontier of dream or vision beckoning us to come. Each one of us must learn to listen to our internal longing to be free to follow our personal dream, though, at the same time, the wisdom of nature insists on keeping its slow pace.

Dreams may be quite distinctive, yet as uncertain as the sound of the incoming tide. Each tide has its own sound. At each stage of the tide's advance, there is a change in the sound, and nothing can hurry its progression. So, as incoming dream swells to fill our capacity, we will go through many changes and at various times, we will interpret our dream differently. If we lose our way, we will need courage to find it again, and when we do, we will discover that there has been no loss. It is our dream that holds the shape of the future which is the source of all the days that will flow freely to everyone living.

In search of Soul

Weeks have quickly passed, and our team has returned to its field of operation. They lived among us in an energy that nourished life in me that I will continue to live, while from the mystery of myself questions rise which I imperfectly express in prayer.

will they continue to revere their inner silence so that they may always listen deeply and never become an unpredictable echo of His whispered words?

will they continue to regard prayer, not as a means of asking for what they want, nor even as still water in which to see a reflection of themselves, but with a purity that transfigures life into an ongoing intercession for the world?

will they continue to cherish each other's dream even more than their own. To gladly take the inheritance of loss, while others take root where they have been blown by the wind and harvest the thirty, sixty or a hundred fold?

will they continue to find the passion for reaching new frontiers that lie beyond natural sight?

will they together continue to become that fighting, front-line, missionary force?

If so, then they will not linger in spaces that are too small for them, but cross a threshold into the wide wildness of His life.

Will you pray for them? . . . and perhaps for me also.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 16 April 2009 )
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