Sunday, 23 March 2008

MY STORY -Chapter 21 - Winding Down and Moving Off Again

Having spent some 8 years involved with the particular ministry that took me travelling around so much, the time came when the emphasis changed. Heavy shepherding emerged with a strong emphasis on the 12 step programme of A. A. After much agonising and prayer we knew that we could not continue in this direction so another parting of the waves took place. Writing a few sentences on the page here could never express the pain involved in this decision, but as I have written before, there are times and seasons in our faith journeys and God never closes one door without opening up another. These times of waiting for the opening of another door so often become precious times in the spirit as we trust in the wisdom of our God and learn to be content knowing that His ways are not our ways and that His timing is perfect. When busyness and activity cease and we are thrown back on God alone, we have opportunity to develop an intimacy with God that is so precious.

With time on my hands I decided I would like to do some studying. I enrolled on a Psychology course at the extra mural college attached to London University. Although it was not my original intention, I enjoyed it so much that I continued to attend class one day a week for 5 years filling in the rest of the study at home. I continued until I had a diploma in Foundations of Modern Psychology, Social Psychology, Personality, Intelligence and Motivation, Group Therapy and Scientific Method. I did not continue to full degree level as my life was becoming busy again as various doors opened.

After years travelling far away from home we began to feel led to return more to our own locality. My husband Alan also retired at this time so this in itself brought its own time of adjustments. It did mean however that we were able to travel together when we did go away from home. Our first opportunity arose when we were invited to a memorial service in Kentucky for our dear missionary friend who had died the previous year. We stayed for a month fellowshipping with local folk before spending time with other friends in Texas and then North Carolina on the way home.

The following year my daughter Jane and I flew out to the States for a visit beginning with a conference which took place in the grounds of our host’s spectacular home in Kentucky. Jane had come for two weeks and me for four. God used this time to teach me in real and hard situations some more truths of His word. I developed a severe flu like cold as soon as I arrived and when the conference was over my hosts had to leave town. They were going to a wedding and although I too was invited, I did not have the funds to pay for a last minute flight. At the same time my daughter was invited to fly to Los Angeles to stay with the daughter of our host. Obviously I would not have wanted her to miss this opportunity, but I did not find it easy staying alone in a very large house in the country and so far away from home. Another friend that I could have stayed with became very unwell having just returned from a mission trip to Africa so this was not really an option.

In my loneliness I phoned a relative of my host who had previously said that she would love for me to spend a few days with her. So, later that day found me driving in the Explorer that had very kindly been left for my use, to a beautiful house on a wooded hillside. That evening while eating at their country club the husband became ill and had to leave. On rising the next morning the wife was far from well, as was the daughter who had come over to visit. Everybody was needing only a bed and solitude so after breakfast I returned to my original hosts home for the day as I wanted to get on with doing what I could to bring their house back to normal after the conference. Cleaning and masses of laundry. Not something expected of me but a way for me to repay their hospitality. About 10.0 pm that evening I drove back through the woods to find the house in pitch darkness. The only light came from the car headlamps. My hosts, all being sick, had forgotten to leave any lights on for me. Now this was a large three storey house. Eventually I found my way in and after feeling around in the dark, in a very unusually shaped hallway, found a light switch.

That night alone at the top of this house I began to lose it emotionally. I spent a long time on the phone to my husband in England waking him up at some unearthly hour and running up a heavy credit card bill. Afterwards while wallowing in fear and self-pity I began to wonder if I should have made this trip at all. Eventually I came to the place where I asked God what He wanted to show me in all of this. As I heard Him speak I knew I had to write it down. I share it here as it was certainly a milestone in my journey. This was September 1996.


God’s ways are not our ways. So often we make what seems like perfect plans, only to find that nothing works out the way we thought it would. Everything seems a mess and we think that we are in the midst of complete and utter failure. Then what?

Once we get our eyes off the situation, and look to see what God is saying to us, the Spirit comes pouring through with fresh enlightenment, and we start to see the situation/problem through God’s eyes as we say that this was meant to be, this is His planning – not our failure (it’s like we are busy making the arrangements while God is busy making the plans). God’s got our attention again, the burden is lessened, the struggle is over and we can watch and see how God works the situation out. ""
I would like to be able to say that I walk and live in this all the time but mostly it comes after a time of frustration and coming to the end of my own self-effort.

A month later and back in the UK we had a small group meeting regularly in our home and over the years had made many contacts in the States so we continued to arrange meetings in our home whenever any of these traveling ministries visited us. We would also take them on itinerant ministry trips in this country. We also began attending a local church where we were quickly asked if we would lead a home group in our home. These visiting ministries also ministered in our church and links began to be formed. These trips are not a ‘life of Riley’ as some people think, there is often a price to pay when bringing the gospel to folk. What does one do for instance when arriving at a home you find the host had not included you in the invite and had omitted to make that clear? Well we graciously booked into a bed and breakfast farmhouse, we really had no choice, and amused ourselves for twenty-four hours before collecting our friends to continue the trip. This only ever happened once I am glad to say.

As did the time we drove 2 friends to Wales. They were staying with us on their way home to the States having spent quite some time on a mission trip in Africa. Our friend Max who was a doctor returned to this country with a severe form of Influenza which did not fully develop until we were sharing at meetings in Wales. The trip had to be aborted early and on the way home I developed a nasty cough which at the time I thought might be the result of motorway fumes. However I awoke the next morning with a high fever and feeling very unwell. The house was silent and when I went to investigate there were three of us all extremely unwell with this virus from Africa. Only my husband was still on his feet. This knocked me out right over Christmas, the only Christmas I have ever spent in bed not even caring what day it was, and it was 6 weeks before I felt fit again. This was just in time to take off on another trip to drive some other ministering guests to Cornwall.

Not long after this while at church one Sunday I went to chat with a lady at the back who I had never seen before. It turned out she was Russian and could not speak English but her children were able to interpret. She had come to this country with her children as refugees having seen her husband and other members of her family killed in her own country. I visited her, taking a welcome pack of groceries and things for her home and this led to a long and continued involvement with a spirit filled Russian church about 6 miles away. Very soon we also had connections with a black church and a South African church. God was certainly broadening our horizons and we were able to fellowship and build friendships with a broadening body of believers from different parts of the world.

I have learned over the years the benefits of trusting and watching to see what God does next. I have never, in all that God has had me involved in, gone seeking out and looking for the next thing. God has always brought something to my attention and then it is for me to respond. Often this happens without me even realizing initially what He is doing.

As I begin to bring this journey up to the present time, I will show how God has His ways of opening us up to even more new experiences.


Sara said...

I enjoyed reading the newest installment of your story, Barbara. The Lord has certainly brought an amazing variety of adventures into your life.


Needled Mom said...

Wonderful read. We are always so busy planning for our ways and they are perhaps so different from the plans that He has for us. It is good to reflect on that idea when we are so stressed in our lives.

Kim S in SC said...

I am always encouraged when I read of your journey with the Lord.And the entire story all because HE IS RISEN! I hope that you have had a wonderful EAster celebration!

Jeanne said...

I love all of your stories.
Love You~

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

Always intriguing...always something new to think about...the one that really struck me today is that those things we sometimes are calling our personal failings are what God has planned.

This should be a book, Barbara. It should all be fleshed out to a book. I say "should." What does God say? LOL!

Anonymous said...

"God's ways are not our ways" SO TRUE and such a good reminder because I always forget. I love His surprises and how He has led you and directed you so clearly.

DeeDee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DeeDee said...

Hi Barbara...Reading your courageous story so reminds me of Corrie Ten Boom (missionary)....have you heard of her? Read..Tramping For The Lord..and The Hiding Place...or go to have always felt that God places certain people in our lives...How be it that you are so far away and such an inspiration to me...God bless you my dear blog friend Barbara ......Dee Dee

Adrienne said...

Barbara -
I haven't caught up with your story and here's a new chapter! I need to do some serious reading. I won't let myself read the new ones until I've finished the older ones first.

Thank you for visiting my blog and for leaving your sweet comments. I'll be back soon to try to catch up with your story and see what else you are doing.

Mob said...

I can SO relate to this post, Barbara. When you said:
(it’s like we are busy making the arrangements while God is busy making the plans).
That is me in a nutshell.
It seems that when I don't get MY way, I concede and say to God ok have it your way then. I am slowly learning to trust in His way first. It is a slow process because at heart I am a control freak :)

Knitting Mania said...

This chapter is so encouraging to me...great timing!


Barbara Jacksier said...

I'd been waiting anxiously for your next installment. Thanks. My mom's cousin from England will be coming to stay with us for a month soon. I'll remember to leave the lights on.

inspired said...

I know the thoughts i have for you. great post..
i took the boyz photo in a play tunnel :]

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

I found myself reading your story and shaking my head... we truly do have to trust God is in everything even when it doesn't turn out like we planned.

A Woman Who is: said...

Thank you for sharing your journey with all of us. You have gained much wisdom through all your experiences in following the King. “I have learned over the years the benefits of trusting and watching to see what God does next.” I love that. I am looking forward to the final installments of your story. It has been a great read.

Rebecca said...


What an amazing story this is. I look forward to the rest of the chapters. My the Lord bless and keep you this day and every day.

Penless Thoughts said...

I am continually amazed as I read your story, Barbara.

Teresa said...

Barbara, this part of what you wrote:
“’s like we are busy making the arrangements while God is busy making the plans. God’s got our attention again, the burden is lessened, the struggle is over and we can watch and see how God works the situation out.”
is so very true. Oh to just walk in that wisdom!