There are a few things to be thought about, and this is where it's happening.
First issue. A while back I wrote about being broken for someone in a hopeless situation. Their life, or lack thereof, twisted up my insides so much that I wept and sang out to God like I haven't for another person in a long time. Every time I picked up the guitar, I'd sing out a song of prayer to God to release him, heal him, give him peace of mind. I told my cell group about what God was doing in me through it, how He was making me into a woman of honest prayer and passion. They (beautifully- I could not ask for better friends, even though I barely know them) offered to pray for this guy with me right there and then. For three weeks, I had been praying for him. I'd known him all my life, but only just realized how desperate his life was, how loosely he hung on to the world like rags on a skeleton. Last week he was found dead on the street. Why this happened now, I don't know. Why didn't I pray before, I don't know. Why when I'm believing for change it doesn't come in the way I'm expecting, I don't know. I've not told many people. The few I have ask me how I feel at the death of this man. All I can answer. "Confused".
And that's as far as I'm prepared to ponder that subject tonight.
Tonight I was at Philly for the first half of the service before having to leave to get the train back with Damo to Nottingham. I love Jesus and I love my church. Anyway, the smallest of phrases from the beginning of the sermon caught my heart. Anne said, "I've been following Jesus since I was 4". This made me smile. The immediate mental image of a small girl running in the shadow of her lord just a step away from her, growing in that intimacy and knowing that path, made me smile immensely. I thought, "I've been following Jesus since I was 14"..."ish". But have I? Yes, in the sense of I admitted that I believed in Him, in what He's done for me. I say, "I gave my life to Jesus", but in a lot of ways I seem to have kept a hold of it for myself. There have been some things that I've given to Him, some aspects of my life I wouldn't live out if it weren't for Him, some decisions that would be different were He not a factor (the factor). But I wonder how obvious it is that I'm following Jesus. I wonder how hot on His heels I am. Not overly. It's more like He's walking and checking back over His shoulder for me, me scampering around getting distracted by interesting toadstools and shiny objects and the like, wandering where I want really, just keeping Him in sight enough to reassure me that I'm still doing swell.
That's not good enough for me anymore. I'm quite excited about the prospect of following Jesus like a shadow, attached to His feet. I want to be open to His voice every hour, not every year when a decision has to be made. I want to answer, "because this is what God's telling me to do" when people ask me "why here?", "why now?", "why not?". I don't want it to be a mumbled last resort, grudgingly conceded. I want it to be my justification, my reassurance and my confidence. I want my life to be so strongly based on His guidance that no funny looks or sensibilities can shake my resolve. I don't want to meander casually along. I want to follow.
And finally, I found out that there are penguins in New Zealand, and thus my desire to live there has increased a good ten-fold.