In July we celebrated our 30th Wedding Anniversary. Looking back, we can give thanks to God for three decades of love and friendship, three adult children and seven different homes! Our wedding ceremony in Sunbury on Thames was a start of a new life and a new journey together. We did not know where God would take us. In Judges 13 in the Bible, we encounter the birth story of Samson. Like so many biblical women, Samson’s mother is described as infertile. Like so many Biblical women, she is also nameless. Though her name has been lost to time, her impact has not. When God granted her a son and commanded her and her husband to raise the child as a Nazirite, she herself had to keep the Nazirite vows so that her son would do the same. Her son Samson’s Nazirite vows gave him strength from God, and he would go on to become one of the Judges, leading the Israelites against the Philistines. Samson’s Dad was called Manoah but the angel of the Lord appears twice in the first instance to Samson’s Mother. The second visit is in response to Manoah’s prayer to God that the angel should return. Having returned a second time, Manoah asks of the angel: “Now when your words become true, what is to be the boy’s rule of life; what is he to do?” Manoah wants everything to be mapped out but the angel of the Lord is more focussed on making sure that the new parents will be are obedient to God. This story reminds us that God uses ordinary people to be part of his purposes and plan. The Israelites because of their disobedience had got themselves into trouble again and were prisoners for forty years at the hands of the Philistines. God chooses a nameless and barren woman to bear a son. She is also charged to live a disciplined life that her son will model his own life on hers. It is from this parental foundation that God will use Samson to rescue the Israelites. It is only human to want to know what the future might hold but we are challenged to personal obedience in a living relationship with God. If we are living a holy life, we become a living example that will be a source of inspiration to those around us. In July we gathered as a Missional Partnership in Hest Bank to share, pray and eat together. We discovered how much we are doing together as a Partnership. Like Manoah we would like to know what the future might hold but for me it was important when we came together in prayer using a labyrinth that we opened ourselves to listening to God. This reflective prayer reminded us that God is able to use even us in our difficult circumstances. All we need to be is obedient and to trust God as we go into the future no matter where the journey may take us.
With every blessing, John Gordon