Hayley James

Relying on God

by Hayley James08/03/2010

At the moment I am learning to do two new things; the first is learning to horse ride and the second is learning to drive a double-decker bus. Now whilst I will be pleased when I can do both of these things, the process of learning is quite petrifying, especially driving the bus – its 9 meters long and weighs over 3.5 tonnes... so what I’m saying is that it’s huge!!! And trying to drive something that big scares the life out of me, all I keep thinking is what if I hit someone, mount the pavement and run over a child or knock off someone’s wing mirror. I have similar fears about horse riding although they tend to focus on hurting myself or the horse. You are probably sat there thinking if it scares you that much why do you do it? And I actually have good reasons for both, horse riding as a recreational activity I have wanted learn my entire life since I was a little girl and driving the bus as it will enable the youth work project I work for to expand further. So both good reasons as you see.

Now the difficult part is the not the why but the how. The why motivates me and keeps me turning up, the how is where I struggle. The thing I have to say is that in this I am not alone. For each thing I have a wonderful teacher who quite literally stays by my side telling me exactly what to do step by step.  If it wasn’t for these two lovely people I would have quit already. But in knowing that they are there, in knowing that they are not going to let me wander from the ‘right’ path, I know I am safe. I know that if I do exactly as they tell me I will be OK, because they know what they are doing. All of my trust and reliance is put in these people and it is because of them that I can attempt these things. They are the how; because at this stage I don’t have a clue how to do either of these things. They are the still small voices guiding my every move.

This whole process has got me thinking about the reliance we are called to have on God (and I’m almost sure God has got me doing these things to teach me something about this for my life). I literally do not make a move unless one of my teachers tells me to do it, and they are always watching to make sure they don’t let me mess up. My whole trust is in them and whatever they say I do, I rely on them completely. As Christians we are called to have this kind of reliance on God too. He tells us that in our weakness he is made strong, that when we surrender our lives completely to Him, He can do wonderful things with us and that when we stop and love Him first, He can motivate and move us to where he wants us to be. God wants our complete abandonment to Him, so that we completely trust and lean on Him for everything.

Yet in the horse riding and driving the bus I will one day be able to do it, I will one day be able to drive or ride by myself and no longer need my teachers. I expect it of myself and the world expects it of me. You don’t have lessons not to be able to do something by the end of it. And probably the other side of that is that there is a little bit of pride in being able to do it myself, the accomplishment I’ve achieved and the skills I have now learnt. In the world these two parallel influences almost force us to act accordingly... I must achieve, I must be able to do this in my own strength, I must learn from my experiences and grow... and I can be proud of myself for all I have become. Now I’m not saying that either of these principles are necessarily wrong, it is good to grow and learn, to develop in your area of work or ministry and there are times where you should be proud of what you have done.

But my question comes back to where God is in that process? Just as one day I will not need my teachers any longer, is there one day where I will not need God in specific situations? As an experienced youth worker, are there areas of my ministry in which I feel so competent that God becomes an after-thought rather than the beginning point? Or does the role God play change? Does God give inspiration and guidance but actually isn’t the one in charge of the creating or the doing? I’m not sure if I can really answer any of these questions. I think the reality is more complex than a yes or no answer. However I do know that I long for the point where I can do both these knew things on my own. I also know that God is teaching me something about the need to rely on others (in which for me, he means Him). He is challenging me on the end point too. Whilst I may be able to learn these things and eventually do them myself, and whilst I may be able to grow and develop as a youth worker, I will never reach a point where I don’t need Him as teacher, guide, father, provider, director... I could go on and on.

God wants me to put Him first. He wants me to rely on Him in all things. For the long game He wants to be my strength, my inspiration, and my guide. Whilst I haven’t got what this will look like or how it works out in practice sorted (I may never have it completely figured out) these are the three things I think are most important to remember:

1)      It is good to be able to do new things, especially in the sense of your ministry. It is great to be able to learn new skills and gain experience in different situations, and to also recognise the accomplishments made.

2)      We need to remember that it is through Christ that we can do ALL things. He must be our starting point and the one who directs our paths.

3)      Doing things in our own strength is not advisable. We need to rely on God for everything. Even when our competence says that we can do it ourselves.


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Life | Ministry

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