To Step out of the Boat or not?

I've been trying to make a decision; specifically, whether to carry on and do a sixth year as churchwarden. When I took the job on, it was on the tacit understanding that it was for six years, but I've had two pretty tough years, and had been feeling as though I really didn't want to carry on. Lately though, things have been looking up; I'm feeling much better about life, the universe and wardening.

So that leaves me to try to discern whether I ought to carry on or not. There are plenty of other exciting opportunities beckoning me. And Linda may be taking a Sabbatical from next August - so there are plenty of other things 'beckoning me'. Should I take the risk - 'step out of the boat' and 'walk on the water'? Or would I simply be running away from what God wants me to do, but which I've found so hard lately?

Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

An Explanation of Sorts

Sorry, this is quite long, but I thought I owed you a more complete explanation for the long silence on my blog. And apologies to those of you who aren't believers - some of this may not make much sense to you! The idea of God speaking to me may well have you wanting to ring the funny farm to come and take me away… Please bear with me and hear me out - hopefully it'll all make some sort of sense in the end!

Tony (my predecessor as churchwarden) said to me, when I was his 'understudy', that the wardens' job is too big in a church like ours: '...just pick the bits you like and are comfortable doing, and forget about the rest, otherwise you'll go mad. Make the job your own.' I did that, happily and with God's evident blessing, for three years, until somehow my (warped?) senses of duty and conscience got the better of me.

As you may (or may not?) be aware, I had a fairly torrid eighteen months - from perhaps March 2013 until September 2014, interspersed with periods of 'okay-ness'. Some of the reasons have been obvious - supporting Linda through the loss of her father, Tim through his 'A' Levels, and that sort of thing. But I'd been aware that 'something else' (more fundamental?) had been wrong, and I hadn't been able to put my finger on what it was, except that whatever it was had been spoiling mymy relationship with God and therefore my sense of peace and wellbeing. My usual experience is that I feel God close by a lot of the time - sometimes (such as when praying in groups) so tangibly that I more or less have to open my eyes and look around to make sure there isn't 'someone else' physically present (definite 'goosebumps' moments!). But that hadn't been the case for over a year; indeed, of late, my prayers had largely been prefaced by "God, if you're there..."


In my previous post I posed the question of what defines one as a Christian. Here I suggest one possible answer (amongst many), but raise another question…

Taking a passage of scripture to illustrate what I mean:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

I am not a Christian

I am not a Christian. But then, according to some, well-meaning, God-fearing, folk, neither is the Pope; so I reckon I am in pretty good company.

A very long time ago, as a teenager, I was beginning my scientific education. As far as I was concerned at the time, the visible, measurable, world was all that existed. I read Nietzsche, Sartre, and other existentialist philosophers, and would have considered myself, if you'd asked me, to be an existential nihilist. We, the inhabitants of this planet, were alone in the cold, dark, unthinkingly pitiless, universe. Life seemed terribly pointless, and yet, I think there was always that sneaking suspicion, lurking somewhere in the back of my mind that that couldn't be the whole story - could it? Surely there had to be meaning somewhere?

The story of my conversion to Christianity can be found here and here - so there's no need for me to repeat it.

When I became a Christian, the church I joined was terribly strict in many ways - positively pharisaical in outlook (many things were, in effect, banned - 'Christians don't do…') - but the people were happy and clearly loved and cared deeply about God, each other and 'the lost' - which included, basically, everyone else.

Works in Progress

I haven't posted to this blog in quite some time. I haven't given up but, for a variety of reasons, I have been struggling to produce posts which are 'finished' - I have ideas, and thoughts, which seem inspired, but which, once I start to write, seem to lead nowhere - either that or my brain descends into a fog and I can't seem to find my way to the conclusion.

I think I have decided that I am going to write anyway, and let my readers draw their own conclusions, or 'fill in the blanks' by commenting. Having said that though, I do reserve the right to edit or delete any comments which I don't like (with or without giving a justification for my changes) - this is my little corner of the internet, after all, and it should, largely, reflect what I want it to!

Why carry on when I have nothing (finished) to say? Well, partly because I think the beginnings of the thoughts are interesting in themselves (you are free to disagree); some of them are questions with no easy answers; some are simply 'works in progress' where I have very little idea what my final conclusion might be, if I ever reach it. But it's all stuff that I need to 'clear out of my mind', and set down 'in print', so that I can, I hope, think more clearly.

Copyright Phil Hendry, 2022