If you have been in church ministry or leadership for any significant length of time, then you will likely have some idea of the personal cost. There are times when God’s voice seems very clear and His purposes unstoppable. And then there are the times when He appears distant and the mountains that lie across our path seem unclimbable.
John and Charles Wesley’s reality was no different. We remember with awe the reports of the large crowds that John addressed and of the amazingly prolific gift of hymn writing with which Charles was endowed. And yet they also faced great persecution, personal assault (physical, verbal and spiritual) and disappointment.
There were days when John Wesley would ride for many miles to arrive at a place where none expected him and the numbers were low. There were days like the one in Birmingham in October 1743 when Charles found himself facing and pursued by an ugly mob baying for his blood.
My own work has its own share of ups and downs. Although I would not wish to pretend that they were anywhere approaching the scale faced by the Wesleys, the disappointments still cut deep and the frustrations can be very real. And the high moments too have left me amazed and full of indescribable joy and wonder.
Netley has been place in which I have felt both pain and joy; but it has also been place of personal growth and of close connection to God and to those who have been part of that fellowship. We are sustained in our ministry (lay or ordained) by our life of prayer with God, who we approach in the name of Jesus Christ; we are empowered and comforted by the Holy Spirit. Our most intimate and powerful moments with God are precious treasures on which we draw when times are dark or hard. Let us thank God for such times, and for the places and communities in which they come.