“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Psalm 16 : 11
Living as followers of Jesus, and as leaders of Mission Shaped Communities, can lead us to make to have to make difficult choices. I don’t just mean we have to decide to do things that are hard, I mean that quite often it is just tricky to discern what the way forward should be, what route of action we should take, and yet we must decide.
This is an important thing to remember about discipleship: we can choose. We have the option of saying yes, no, maybe and a host of other responses to one another, to opportunity, to God. God may reveal to us, as the writer of Psalm 16 claims, the path of life, but we have to choose to walk down it.
You can choose whether to come along to an MSC evening or not. You can choose whether to take a day of rest or whether to plough through to burn-out. You can choose whether to make some space for another member of your community. You can choose.
In some cases there is a clear-cut right or wrong decision. In others there may not be. Responding to the opportunity in front of you or the request for helpers may be the right thing to do or it may not be. So when it gets complicated, how do you choose?
The learning circle, which lead us to practice repentance and belief, is a valuable tool here. As we move through the stages of observe, reflect, discuss, plan, account and act, we get to prayerfully listen and consider what the Lord is saying and to choose our response. Some of these stages can happen on our own others require the involvement of friends. Too often we don’t use this tool, we just react out of impulse to the opportunities in front of us and we then kid our selves that we had to do something because “I just didn’t have a choice.”
As a resource base team we had to put this into practice recently. We’ve been planning for a while to hold a “Simply Summer” event in July in the same mould as the excellent “Simply Easter” and “Simply Christmas” gatherings that took place earlier in the year. As we sat down to plan this event, however, it began to become clear that there wasn’t a clear vision for it. The more we observed, reflected and discussed, the more we realised that we could do something good, but that maybe this time we shouldn’t. Maybe this time we should choose to create a bit of space in July and come back to a Summer event next year. In the end we chose to cancel the event.
What are the choices that you, and the people in your community, are making right now? How are you responding to opportunities like the Tour de France and the World Cup? How are you reacting to the challenges that our communities face or just to the challenges of coming along to huddle, to gatherings and to training events? Let’s learn to be people who can discern the path of life before us, and who choose to walk on it.