Monday, 26 March 2012
Being in a room full of family and friends who have gathered to wish you God’s blessings on your work, travels and life is a most humbling experience. It is also wonderful, memorable and generally overwhelming. My commissioning on Sunday Mar 22 was all of this and more.
Looking around the church as I stood up to say ‘I will, with God’s help’ to my commissioning questions, I saw people from such a cross section of life. Family, school friends, Naracoorte friends, LSF friends, community friends, housemates, sailors, fellow students and lecturers from different colleges, translation colleagues, my Ferryden Park family, friends of the family since before I was born and enough Shine choir friends that the last song had full harmonies being sung. All people I love and who love me. All people who had gathered to bless me and bid me fare well.
Over lunch as I looked around the gathering in the hall, the building itself reminded me of God’s blessings and provision as I head out on this adventure of Bible translation. It was a building project which a congregation our size and with our shaky budget should never have taken on. When the old hall started falling down numbers on the page made it look like closure was the only option. The people were not ready for that though. We dreamt, thought, prayed and schemed. We contacted friends, interested people and wrote grant applications. We put in many many hours of physical labour. All ages, abilities and backgrounds were involved. We pulled down our old hall and built a new one out of straw bales. The small debt we had was soon paid for from our annual mango fundraiser and by collecting 10c recycling. The hall in which we lunched on my commissioning day stands as a testament to the provision of God. A great encouragement to me at this point.
My commissioning was a joyful day but there was sadness too. After so many years of thinking, talking and preparing for Bible translation it is exciting to finally be sent and on the way. Yet leaving means saying fare-ye-well to so many precious people. Although glad to be going where I am going, it means not being among these people I love. It means not meeting the babies due in the next few weeks and months until they are two years old. My other sadness was the contrast of my celebration at being sent to fulfil my calling with the patient and endless waiting of precious friends. The same church which to me says ‘Go! May God bless you!’ says to others who have a sense of calling so have trained and prepared ‘No! and stop being troublemakers.’ I long for the day the LCA ordains women and these gifted, gracious and faithful women can also be sent into their calling with a blessing.
Overwhelmed is the best description of how I’ve been feeling of late, as so many emotions swirl about. I handle them in my usual duck like manner, all calm on the surface, paddling hard underneath. The other week I stood in the rain with a friend and watched a bird in a swollen creek. She was clearly paddling hard, as the water raged about her, but on the surface all we could see was a smooth body with a head strained forward. Underneath I am paddling in a swirl of excitement, worry, joy, tiredness, uncertainty, certainty, farewells, sense of calling…on the surface all seems smooth as my head strains towards PNG. The peace of God which passes all understanding, that is what sustains me.