I am still on leave - honestly, I am not here, this blog is still hibernating for another week. But I need to note this down.
7:15 a.m. yesterday, I am at a B&B in the middle of nowhere in Wales, a phone call to let me know one of my congregation - one of the younger ones - had 'a few days' to live. I intended to drive down after my guest preach in Warrington today to say farewell to her.
7:15 a.m. today, I am at a friend's house, another call to let me know she had died less than an hour earlier.
10:30a.m. today I am leading the guest service which includes these words of Jesus from Luke 9:60 "let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God." It is hard, very hard - but that's the whole point of the sermon: discipleship costs, and costs dearly. My task was to preach on disicpleship... only then could I drive south to be pastoral.
3p.m. I stand before a weeping congregation and lead them in prayer giving thanks for our sister-in-Christ and seeking God's strength and comfort for her family, before handing over to the visiting preacher.
4p.m. I leave the family home, having shared memories and smiles, having prayed with husband, children, parents.
Sometimes we seek signs of God's calling, sometimes we wonder if we are still in tune with God's will - today I felt acutely what it means to deny self, take up a cross and follow, wherever he leads.
The LORD gives and the LORD takes way - blessed be the name of the LORD.
Thanks J & J (and others) for practical and prayerful support over the last 24 hours.