A couple of weeks ago I was in Canada with two friends for a four day conference at Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship, the church behind what came to be known as the ‘Toronto Blessing’. Although one of my friends, Dave, is a church leader who has been six times before, this was my first trip to TACF, coming, as it did, at a strangely appropriate time when my diary seemed miraculously to be clear. I had engagements the day before going and on the evening of my return - amazing! Before the conference started Dave took us to the Niagara Falls on a brilliantly sunny day. Although the falls are spectacular, the city is rather tacky!
In essence the conference was simply about developing a closer relationship with God, the outcome, or overflow, from which will touch a needy world. There were some amazing stories of God at work through the lives of a number of the delegates - Muslims becoming Christians on a Toronto bus journey; young women being saved (in every sense of the word) out of a life of prostitution in Africa; people being healed in the most spectacular and hype-free way. Although I might have wished for some amazing revelation from God, the lasting impression is of a renewed confidence in God and the challenge to keep on pursuing intimacy with Him. Jesus so often spoke about the spiritually hungry and thirsty - I was left wondering just how hungry or thirsty we are / I am.
A true seeking after God results from an experience of God which one falls in love with for no reason other than finding God irresistibly lovable. In this way the lovers of God are the ones who are most passionately in search of God.
One experience in particular seized me and created something of a defining moment. During the Saturday afternoon session I looked to my left and saw someone who was the absolute identical twin of my dad, right down to his style of clothes, his glasses and his mannerisms. It was a completely captivating moment - I had to keep checking to be sure. But in that moment I knew for certain that I had no unresolved issues with my dad, who died in Nov 2003; there was nothing in my relationship with my father that could in any way be hindering my relationship with my heavenly Father. My dad’s double was only there for that one session - he’d gone again by the evening.
On the Sunday we drove to see friends of Dave’s near Ottawa who lead a church that is fast outgrowing their house, where they meet, and may soon be more publicly present in the nearby town. Then on Monday a night flight home to Gatwick, arriving Tuesday morning with a lunchtime meeting in a school (booking another week of Sanctum) and a Trustees meeting in the evening. Is that what they call a heavy landing?!
Well, I'm back from India after a wonderful time visiting the hill country around Kurseong and Darjeeling. Great food, lovely people, awesome scenery (especially for someone who lives in Essex) and warm clear weather. More photos on Flickr.
I'm off to India for ten days with my mum to celebrate her 72nd birthday. Over the last 5 years or so she's been four times, twice to Madras and twice to Kerala in the south. However, she's always wanted to visit Darjeeling, way up in the north east under the shadow of the Himalayas. So I'm going with her.
Our visit has been put together by a company called Insider Tours which is run by someone who is a friend of my mum and my sister. Insider Tours specialises in ethical tourism ensuring that as much of a visit as possible benefits the local people and economy. [pic: Insider Tours]
Yesterday Tom (new schools worker) and I had to drive from Colchester to Westbury, Wiltshire, for a meeting with the guys at GSUS Live about the next visit of their mega mobile classroom to our area in the autumn. Including our one hour meeting this round trip of 370 miles took us 12 hours, nearly half of which was on the M25.
Some roadwarriors do this every day - they're crazy. They wear away at their own humanity even as they wear away at the environment.
But, as I've often said; to be in a traffic jam is to be part of the problem.
On Friday I'm off to Wales for a few days with Dan and Collective. Collective are taking part in a weekend away with the church Kat is from as a way of showcasing the work she is doing. Dan's doing the sound and I'm helping with some lighting on the Saturday evening. From Sunday to Tuesday I'm visiting my mum and taking in the scenery of mid Wales between Welshpool and Llanfair, an occasional escape to somewhere and something quite different to life in Colchester. No broadband, so this space may go a bit quiet.