“Must I paint you a picture
About the way that I feel?
You know my love for you is stronger.
You know my love for you is real.”
From “Must I Paint You A Picture?” by Billy Bragg.
This forms the second part of two halves. The previous post can be linked here. It explains an exercise we did when half of those gathered at a meeting a few weeks ago were asked to face a wall, unaware of who would then stand behind them and to ask God to reveal a picture, verse or impression that they should share with the person behind them.
I was stood behind someone I’ve never met before, but whom I know is held in high regard by many in our congregation. He said that he felt he had seen a picture of a fruit tree - a peach tree – and that the fruit was really ripe. What does it mean? I think I know what it relates to, but I’m not sure what the interpretation is.
I guess I’d been thinking ahead of the meeting about how my life looks in terms of how I spend my time. It is largely taken up by work, family and church commitments. Despite the pressure of work deadlines, I am trying to find time for the things of God in all of that – whether it’s to work with all my best efforts, to influence the office culture or environment or to catch up socially with people I ought to. I sometimes I wonder how much of a witness I am at work as I often just have my head down trying to maintain focus and get things done…Right now things are very demanding and many evenings are spent back in the office (after I’ve made it home to have meal with my family and be their for my daughter’s bath time) with me eventually making it home only to collapse into bed. It’s not always like that, but right now is one of those periods.
Family life is great and there’s loads to be thankful for, but, it still demands (rightly) a huge amount of my time and energy.
Church life is also busy with organising, preparing for and facilitating a weekly small group, preparing and leading the music parts of our evening services once a month, helping drum at a friend’s church service once a month and assisting us find a property solution to our growing congregation.
Maybe the picture means that as I grow older, I am growing into the person I am meant to be? Maybe the fruits of the spirit are more evident in my life than they once were? (that sounds pious and unlikely as I know I still have a long way to go) Maybe, as I use these different skills I have been gifted with, it is pleasing to God?
Maybe the picture means that the fruit is ripe and is to be enjoyed by others – the benefactors of my efforts?
Maybe the fruit is ripe and ready to fall? Maybe I have grown to fullness in some of these areas of life and it is time to hand those things over before the fruit gets over-ripe and rots? Maybe the tree was overladen? My gut instinct is that it is this latter interpretation that is more accurate of how life actually is right now.
We then went to pray in groups of three. As we shared something for prayer, we were encouraged to wait in silence for a minute or two – again asking God to reveal whether there was anything He wanted us to share – a picture, a scripture, an impression, etc and then to share that with the person being prayed for, to see if it resonated and then to pray into that.
When asked what people could pray for for me, I shared something of the above (not the picture – just the question about whether I am doing all that I ought to be or whether I should do less and do it better?). One of the guys praying said that after the moment or two of silence he just sensed the word “blessing” and that is what I was to others. He talked particularly of my role in leading music at church (which was an encouragement as I’d been a bit frustrated and discouraged by the previous Sunday night’s service).
My wife was also in the group and she thought she saw a picture of a jigsaw which had a picture of the sea on it. The corner piece was missing to complete the picture and there were a few final pieces piled on top of the bigger picture, so she couldn’t see exactly what the picture was…
One of the most helpful things I have done in my Christian life of late was a thing called the Network Course. It helps explore, establish and affirm natural abilities and spiritual gifts, From it I learned that my gifts are creative communication, faith and encouragement. At the time I was leading worship once a month and that seemed like a natural outlet for these things. I used to try and tell stories or set the scene or use DVD clips to help communicate and encourage us all into God’s presence. As church has grown, I seem to spend less time doing those things as others try to cram loads of announcements, testimonies, DVD clips, etc into the space we have. I spend more time just getting lost in my drumming and I concentrate on doing that as well as I can. I found myself leading worship when our church was a very different place to what it is now. We were really short of gifted musicians back then and short of folks who wanted to see something more contemporary happen musically. I stepped into a gap, explored it, felt anointed and forgiven when I made mistakes. I wonder if that was a role for a season and whether there are others who could more naturally organise and lead that whilst I revert to just getting stuck back into my drumming? Is that what this is all about?
Maybe my blog is a good means of communicating creatively for someone as softly spoken as me? Maybe hosting our small group and helping facilitate something like the art project linked here is more fitting just now?
Would that give me more time to feed my soul in other ways? As an individual and as a family we love being near water. Would that give me the time to spend with my family on the beach or by the sea? To enjoy the view? To walk and shoot the breeze? The sea is a powerful image for me due to my love of padlling about and falling off my surfboard and also because of a recurring dream I had when I was going through a particularly difficult period about 10 years ago. There is something about the vastness of the sea that enables me to see how big and awesome God is and how small I am. Why is that picture incomplete?
What does it all mean???