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Daring to lose sight of land

Gordon Crowther challenges us to not settle back into the familiar, but keep pioneering

This article was published in the January to April 2022 edition of Rapport magazine.

When threatened, we return to what we know – what worked for us last time. But God spoke through the prophet Isaiah and said:

‘Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.’

Isaiah 43:18–19

When the Israelites were unnerved by the unpredictability of the wilderness which seemed to promise a future of insecurity and scarcity, some wanted to go back to Egypt. But God needed to refine a people for Himself who were rooted in faith in God, as protector and provider, if they were to bring God’s Light to the world.

Looking forward

In a wilderness our hope is fixed to a promised destination. Without that we start walking in circles. The members of the church which I led in Cape Town left the building because of Covid and have now demolished the structure to make way for the erecting of a new, visionary Life Centre to allow multiple ways of bringing blessing to more people. Some have spoken to me of being surprised by the strong emotional reaction of coming back to a large cleared space – no going back now!

As the Apostle Paul said:

‘Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus.’

Philippians 3:13–14

Where is your hope fixed? Many are asking ‘When will we get back to normal?’ The language of ‘re-imagining’, of the ‘new’ and ‘fresh’, becomes less attractive when the wilderness experience lengthens and we long for the comfort of the familiar, even if we used to grumble about it!  We can so glory in the past, which gets ever more glorious the more onerous the present, that we stop looking for, and preparing for, the future.

It has been said that the greatest resistance to a move of God often comes from those who experienced the previous move of God. If our heads are turned backwards or are bent to our navels, we become blind to the rich opportunities ahead. God may be opening the way and opening gushing new springs, but we just want to go back, not forwards.

Prayer for the Movement

At our Lee Abbey Movement weekend recently, Bishop Alan Smith quoted Vincent Donovan from the Preface to the 2nd edition of his book Christianity Rediscovered:

‘… do not try to call them back to where they were, and do not try to call them to where you are, as beautiful as that place might seem to you. You must have the courage to go with them to a place that neither you nor they have ever been before.’ 

How can we set ourselves to perceive the ‘new thing’ and to resist unthinkingly reverting to that which we have known?

As was prayed at the Movement weekend:

‘Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly, To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery; Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.’

Attributed to Sir Francis Drake

Go in the Peace of Christ.

Revd Gordon Crowther

Lee Abbey Devon

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