So, I had a retreat day all lined up; plan in place, where to meet, how to get there, how to pick up kids at appropriate time. Then it snowed, not much, just enough for school to be starting late.
Still, off I trotted in my car on a little adventure in the snow. The roads had all but cleared – amazingly even the side road tracks (like someone had gone ahead and brushed all the snow away). But the countryside was a blanket of white and the snow was lying heavily on the trees, bowing branches, beautiful. As I got within a mile of the agreed destination, I came across a barrier, complete with keypad. No problem. I’d been warned about the barrier, just drive up to it and it will open.. So I did. Twice, slowly. No movement on barrier and no code to get through in my car. I thought it was a little odd, no mention of this in the instructions, no-one around near the barrier to ask, no intercom to get help.... Because of the snow, I was a little later than expected, so I rang about 20 people to try and see if they were already there, to see if they could help me get past the barrier.
I spoke to lots of answer phone messages......but no luck in speaking to an actual person, so ditched the car (not literally thankfully) and had to walk. A mile down the road through the snow, finally arriving at the venue. No-one there. I began to think that I had missed something, a text, or voicemail, an email or Facebook message cancelling.... But the roads were clear, there were no problems with the snow and when I rechecked, no messages. Still the countryside was stunning, so I walked back to the car, a little wet, a little surprised, asking ‘Lord what do you want to say through this......’ I loved the trees, took some pics, thought ‘what a beautiful place this is’, sensed God dancing, saying ‘have some fun, enjoy where I have brought you, make fresh tracks in the snow, I have made you for this adventure. Just follow me......’
It turned out that I’d been missed out of the communication loop, a new plan had been formed because of the perceived problem of the snow. A new venue, revised times and of course, because the plan was to ‘retreat’, all phones and possibilities of contact were off and closed.
As I reflected on this, I began to see a bigger picture. I thought about the barrier in the road, the perceived problem of the snow, other people not following through on the agreed vision. I thought about how easy it is for some to then be left isolated. I sensed God saying this is how things are, the vision was there, others didn't follow where I could have taken them, didn't step on the adventure, and because they haven't stepped it has created a barrier/difficulties for you who have. They are man made barriers, I have cleared the way. Don’t be put off from following what I have said – the obstacles might hold you up a little, you might be stopped for a while, but I called you on this adventure and even though it is more difficult than you might have thought, there is a way.
When big vision is communicated typically three groups of people emerge. One group enthusiastically embraces the vision and they are joined by those who, whilst less excited, nevertheless hear God in the vision and step out on the adventure. The second group are those who agree intellectually and seem to buy in to the vision, but there is no emotional response, no heartfelt commitment. So when problems, real or perceived arise they are quick to amend the process or the outcome of the vision. Of course the last group are those who are ambivalent or opposed to the vision and who throw up obstacles, hoping to keep the status quo.
In this it is like my trip to the retreat. The plan is agreed, the outcome enthusiastically embraced. Some buy into it fully and are prepared to follow through even when obstacles are raised. Others desire the outcome, but are put off the process when faced with challenge. They change the process or the outcome but forget those who left earlier on the full adventure. In the midst of the change, the early adopters, those who willingly follow the full path risk becoming isolated. Just like me on the retreat. At first, I felt I had missed out, missed out because I had followed where led, had followed the agreed vision. When the vision changed I was left in the lurch. But then God said, ‘don’t be disappointed or feel like you got second best, they missed out on adventures with me and they missed out on you, my beloved child.
The truth is that God loves those who take the full adventure and those who don’t, but when we hold back people get hurt and the full blessing that God intended is reduced. He says ’you must fly where I send, you were built for adventure, whether people follow or not I am with you, and I will prepare the way, I will clear the path.’