Despite the best efforts of Storm Katie our four-hour drive to the tropical paradise of Skegness went without mishap (apart from the challenge of packing the car – oh the joys of self catering!). Probably the only problem was that the route does not take us past any service stations selling Costa Coffee and Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Not to worry. We can live without doughnuts. Coffee – not so sure. Tea – definitely not. Jesus – impossible!
Jesus is why we come to Spring Harvest. Yes, it’s great to meet with family and share a tiny space otherwise known as a Butlin’s chalet, but we come to join with other followers of Jesus to worship Him, to be refreshed by Him, and to just take time out of our busy lives in a place where perhaps His voice might be a little clearer.
Some might argue that Jesus doesn’t have a voice. I know that He does. Malcolm Duncan, our speaker at the evening celebration yesterday told us how he heard Jesus speak to him when Jesus first grabbed hold of his life: Once audibly in the street, and the second time through a pastor who shouted the very same words as Malcolm was attempting to make a swift exit from a service a few days later. The words? “Son, come home.”
Malcolm did indeed come home, but coming home has not been easy for him. He is now minister of a Baptist church, and part of the Spring Harvest leadership. But coming home has not meant that Malcolm has been able to put his feet up. Malcolm told how during the last eighteen months he has had to deal with four tragic deaths in his family, three of them suicides. He told how God has carried him through this difficult period, during which he personally took each of the funerals. Was his faith shaken? Yes, of course. Did he give up on Jesus? No, he didn’t, because Jesus never gave up on him. The day before taking the last funeral Malcolm went to the crematorium to pray for strength to carry on. His phone bashed against a chair and somehow started to play the Phatfish song ‘There is a Day.’ The song begins:
There is a day that all creation’s waiting for,
A day of freedom and liberation for the earth.
And on that day the Lord will come to meet His bride,
And when we see Him in an instant we’ll be changed.
Malcolm described how the words of the song were Jesus speaking to him. Then he said to us; “We just need His grace for today. All I want to do is encounter God; to receive His power, strength and grace just to live.” Then Malcolm got down on his knees and prayed to encounter God. And I knew. I knew that I should have been on my knees with him.
And so, my children, listen to me, for all who follow my ways are joyful. Listen to my instruction and be wise. Don’t ignore it.
Joyful are those who listen to me, watching for me daily at my gates, waiting for me outside my home!
For whoever finds me finds life and receives favour from the Lord. But those who miss me injure themselves. All who hate me love death. (Proverbs 8: 32-36 NLT)