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All Change3 days ago
Stephen Dinsmore retires as National Director of SOMA UK at the end of this month. In his ReSource Blog Stephen reflects on some of the stresses and fears that accompany change and transition, and points us, though the scriptures, to the God who is with us in wilderness times and when the future is uncertain.
As I write I’m surrounded by a scene of dishevelment and devastation: empty boxes, mountains of shredding, more for recycling and the inevitable mound of “that’ll be useful to someone for something but who, and for what?”
At the end of this month, after a near decade and a half in the role, I come to the end of my time as National Director of SOMA and I retire. I have had a brilliant time. In short, SOMA seeks to do aboard what ReSource does in the UK, we’re sister organisations. SOMA does that with long term relationships and short term, multicultural teams, both firmly built on the foundation of prayer and focussed intercession. To find out more go to ‘Partners’ in the ReSource website or directly to SOMAUK.org.
So, for me, it’s a time of considerable change, of near total transition. Combined with the pandemic it is particularly so, and because of Covid it’s a time of change and transition for many of us. At my best I’ve delighted in the thrill of change, the excitement of new futures, of tantalising possibilities. At worst I’ve been hit with uncertainty, stress, fear and, with Covid, exasperation. At times I’m just discombobulated. It’s certainly focussed prayer.
And what will I do next? I genuinely do not know.
So, for such a time as this, what have I found has helped me?
I was struck by Moses confronting Pharaoh on the banks the Nile. Moses delivers God’s ultimatum “Let my people go so they may worship me…” but where? No, not ‘in the land I have given them’, but “Let my people go so they may worship me in the wilderness…” What have I found that has helped in this wilderness time of transition to the unknown? First, and aided by insight from Ignatian Spirituality, giving grateful, worshipful, thanks. Grateful thanks for what has been, what I’ve experienced, what I've seen and the grace upon grace I’ve received from God. Grateful, worshipful, thanks has built faith for a future and a hope.
‘Idols speak deceit, diviners lie, they offer comfort in vain, so my people wander like sheep without their shepherd’. Second, disturbed by transition and change I find I'm more than usually vulnerable. I am out of my comfort zone, I am uncomfortable. I’m tempted to seek comfort from that which is other than God, the one who does not promise comfort in vain. Yes, I’m giving grateful, worshipful, thanks for the grace upon grace I’ve received, and with it I’m horribly aware of my own vulnerability, weaknesses and that to which I’m easily seduced to ‘seek comfort in vain’. So, times of transition are needful of vigilance, of taking heed to myself.
Yet what of the future? I am looking forward to making more time to reflect, more space to pray and the opportunity to renew and restore. But more than that, for now, I do not know, not yet.
To Abram God speaks “Go … to a land I will show you. So Abram went, as the Lord had told him.” What struck me was that at departure it appears Abram did not know the destination, yet holding on to God’s promise Abram set out, went in faith, ‘to the land I will show you’. Which is where I find myself now.
At one of our SOMA UK conferences we received a word that we were ‘in transition’, a midwife, Jane who was with us at the time, helpfully pointed out that during parturition there is a period of transition, where it appears nothing is happening, yet not only is something happening, but also without it a successful birth is less likely.
I find myself in such a transition. Maybe with the pandemic to a degree you find yourself there too. I’m watching, listening and waiting, filled with grateful, worshipful, thanks, vigilantly aware of my vulnerability, holding on that He will show me, and looking forward to that which the future will bring, whatever that is – most of the time anyway.
That is what has been helping, blessing and comforting me. My prayer is that in transition it may just also help you, too.