Had a meeting with the Succentor today (“one who sings second”… In English cathedrals today the priest responsible for liturgy and music is usually the Precentor, but some cathedrals, such as St Paul’s and Durham, retain a Succentor as well.) He is a lovely man and one of those people who holds both authoritarian persona with love and calm. I needed to go over the event planned for next week to check the practicalities with him and to get his ‘blessing’ on it. I was worried that this meeting may be the end of the plans and I would have to go back to the drawing board on the whole thing. He was very positive about it! The whole meeting was easy and smooth, no compromises were needed. I left thankful for God’s provision.
I went straight to email the college chaplain with the publicity and check it through with her. She was very excited about the project and was very helpful.
So why does this all need to be said?
I’m still struggling to get a cast. All the other aspects of the event are fitting together smoothly and people are excited about it. So why is it difficult to find some people to perform the monologues. I’m keen to get students from outside the community to be involved due to the potential impact that that may have. The emailed I received over the weekend (see Any Given Friday (part IV) post) encouraged me and seemed to hint to me I was doing the right thing but I maybe wrong. In the past when I have faced difficulties in projects it has turned out that it was a warning to stop but other times they have been something I needed to work through. It comes down to your opinion on opposition to God’s will.
God gave humans free will in order that our love would be genuine. There’s a story I always find helpful in explanation:
There was once a king who ran his kingdom with strength and peace. Once, when travelling through his kingdom, he saw a beautiful girl in a village. As he passed by he couldn’t take his eyes off her and when he got back to his palace he couldn’t stop thinking about her. So he called his chief counselor and said, “I have fallen in love and would like her brought to me so she can become my wife. Go and find her and bring her to me.” The counselor turned to the king and said, “Sire, if I may say; I will go and get her for you and you will get married. In a few years, however, you will begin to ask the question, “Does she really love me?” She may love you but you will never know as she didn’t have the choice.” The king thought for a moment and then said, “Very well. Go and find her and ask her if she will marry me. Then she will have the choice to marry me or not.” The counselor again said to the king, “Sire, if I may say; If I go to her and ask she may say ‘yes’ and I will bring her back to the palace and live here. In a few years, however, you will still begin to ask the question, “Does she really love me?” She may love you but as you are the king with all this finery and power you will never know if she really loves you or if she is scared of saying ‘no’.” The king again thought and asked, “What should I do?” The counselor said, “Go yourself, to her village, take off your crown and all your power. Get to know her as a person and allow her to get to know you. Then when the time comes, ask her.” “Good” said the king. “Oh, and Sire,” said the counselor, “If she says ‘no’ do not tell her who you are.”
This story paints a good understanding of why God gave us free will.
What’s this got to do with anything?
With free will there is some opposition, therefore, with God’s will and design. We could get into a discussion about pre-destination and free will but this is not the forum to do so. What I want to say is, when praying for an outcome, you need to hold in tension the idea of God’s will and human will which may or may not be aligned. We can almost never guarantee God’s will (we can have an educated and prayful stab in the dark!) so when opposition to mission comes about how are we to respond? Give up and claim it’s God’s will to go in another direction? Keep going and claim it’s a test of faith? Or is there another way?
I have been watchful during this process to take one step at a time and respond to God’s prompting. I have been blessed with encouragements and a strong sense of blessing on it. This, as we have seen, could easily be misdirected. We can get in such knots about hearing God’s voice. What is the right response? Do I hold out and continue to pray? When is the right time to stop praying for people and try and discern what God is doing?
I’m going to spend some time this evening praying and listening, taking in all that’s happened, look back over this account of the project and see where God is directing me to. I will continue to pray for people to come forward, as I believe this is what God is wanting, but I will be prepared for God to step in and give me a fresh glimpse at His vision for this event. In the end its His and He can do it, I’m just blessed enough to be invited along for the ride.
Onto my knees I go!