Some years ago, a mum walked into my church for a ‘parade service’. Her son was carrying the flag for the Beaver Cubs, and she felt obliged to attend. To her amazement, she found the service relevant, catchy and interesting. This proved to be the first step on a journey which led to her discovering her own Christian faith.
Many people have nurtured that faith, and along the way she has been encouraged to discover and develop her gifts. A couple of summers ago she attended a four-week preaching workshop at the church, and now preaches regularly. Wherever possible I have taken notes and fed back to her on the preaching. Last night I sat and listened as she tackled one of the more quirky passages of Revelation – and I was blessed by the insight and application which I heard.
Can anybody (apart from God himself) take credit for this? Absolutely not! Were lots of people involved in it? Absolutely yes! When gifts in the church are developed,the line between who teaches who and who encourages who becomes ever more blurred. Rather like Escher’s puzzling picture below, it becomes harder and harder to tell which way round it works. God recycles age, experience, mistakes and insights in some kind of glorious process which fertilizes the church and makes it grow.
I occasionally get told off for my recycling. I get narky notes left in my bins because I have inserted the wrong kind of plastic or an unacceptable drinks box. Thankfully, God’s view of the whole process seems rather less narrow – and when people learn through trying their gifts all are blessed.