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Listening…

Watching birds in the park helps Self-Reliant Group facilitator, Laura Walton, listen to God.

Many Christians hear God speaking to them in an audible voice, giving them guidance, comforting them, reminding them that they are not alone. Others ‘hear’ God’s voice when they read the Bible and know that a particular verse is for them in their own unique set of circumstances. I believe God speaks in many ways just as a parent finds different ways of teaching their child the ropes of life. I almost never go to my local parks without seeing God’s hand and knowing I’ve been shown something relevant to my life or to a situation. I realise how important the natural environment is to my faith.
 
Yesterday my walk in the park gave me a completely new and amazing experience. I met two baby thrush, spotty chested, short, fat and fluffy around the edges. They were at ground level looking up at me…..with interest, without fear. The Mother was close by, demonstrating the foraging for food lesson and crossly prompted them to keep focused on the task. Because she was there, they had no fear of me and began again to imitate their Mum, hopping a couple of steps away from me.
 
Fear can be paralysing. It can stop us moving forward. It can cause us to retreat. It can create barriers which seem to be insurmountable and it can disguise itself in so many valid reasons which deter us from even trying.
 
We have become lockdown experts here in the NW. We are lockdown graduates. We have survived, we’ve come through. As restrictions are eased yet again, our daily schedules face change and our watches have come back into use. Our calendars come alive with possibilities and doorbells pave the way to back garden reunions. The roads take longer to cross and the pavements no longer seem so wide.
 
But actually the long straggly hair gets tied up quite neatly and the nails aren’t long enough to paint. The supermarket birthday cards are familiar and easily accessible and stories on the news of charity shops being restocked during the day because they are so busy are reason enough to stick to wearing what we’re comfortable in.
 
As our Self Reliant groups begin to make plans to meet in parks or gardens, there is a feel of that hesitancy to move out of our very definite comfort, stay at home zones. Obliged to stay in and stay local and stay alone and apart has had its effects on us. Doing something simple like meeting our friends in the park seems unnatural, unreal and a big exertion. But it does not have to be. We are all in the same boat. With trust and sensitivity to each other’s unique experience of lockdown and the pandemic itself, we can begin something new. We are not alone and we can, like the baby thrush, learn a new way of living, where we depend on each other and are encouraged and emboldened by each other.
 
A prayer….
 
Father God , thank you that you are the rock on which we stand. Thank you that you are our Protector and you go before us into each day. Thank you that your presence brings us calm and peace and your spirit draws us forward and closer. I pray for each one of us, that we would know you, hear you, see you and face each day without fear, but with courage and determination.
In Jesus’ name we pray.
 
Amen

Find out more about Self-Reliant Groups: http://www.church-poverty.org.uk/srg

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