29 November 2011

A rather difficult guest

Part 5 of a series - 'The Grace Outpouring'
< A pattern of blessing | Index | Blessings in the rain >

Visitors keep arriving at Ffald-y-Brenin, wanting to know what happens in this beautiful Welsh retreat centre. Roy and Daphne find that visitors are sometimes inconvenient or even difficult.

A door latch at Ffald-y-Brenin
Last time we heard how Roy came to see that visitors were an answer to his prayer. A regular pattern of blessing developed as visitors arrived daily at Ffald-y-Brenin. This seems a good thing, they like and enjoy what is happening and pray for more.

They do get more, but perhaps not exactly what they had bargained for.
It wasn't always straightforward. One afternoon I was interrupted by a knock at the door, and there stood another enquiring couple. Faced with a deadline for posting a form, I was internally wavering; but our hospitality habit prevailed and the kettle went on for tea. We did the tour, got to the chapel, but even before I could pray the prayer of blessing they were visibly touched by the Holy Spirit. I slipped away to post my form. Later I was able to talk with them and explain what God had been doing.

As they walked away to their car another couple walked towards me. 'No! I've got to get this work finished,' I thought, even as I outwardly smiled. 'Lord, I haven't got time for this now; please turn the flow off!'

I explained to the couple that I was a little pressed but asked how I could help. I wasn't anticipating the man's response: 'I was driving along, going through the valley, enjoying this beautiful summer afternoon, and the weirdest thing happened when I got to your drive. I've held my driving licence for over forty years, but I was compelled to come up your drive, and I'm absolutely convinced that if I'd taken my hands off the wheel, it would have just turned and the car would've found its way up here. I don't understand it. I've never experienced anything like it. Could you please tell us what on earth's going on here?'

I explained that we were a Christian retreat centre, a place where the presence of God comes and people's lives are changed because they encounter him.

'How interesting,' he said. 'That reminds me of the story of the bishop and the prostitute.'

By now we were at the kitchen table, and he was telling a pornographic story, while his wife just went pink.

I was finding all of this very difficult but nevertheless I offered them a cup of tea. To my intense disappointment they said yes. While the kettle was boiling he told another story that was even worse than the first one.*

Roy and Daphne are in the middle of an amazing time of blessing. People have been arriving every day for weeks, asking about the work at Ffald-y-Brenin, and having unexpected and dramatic encounters with the Mighty One.

But they are learning that blessing is sometimes inconvenient and can even be hard to handle. There are useful lessons here for all of us.

Suppose Roy had said to the first couple: 'Sorry, I've no time to see you as I have urgent business to finish. Form to post off and the deadline's today, you know the kind of thing. Can you come back another day?' Or suppose he'd looked at his watch and said: 'Yes, yes, come on in. Now what do you want? I have only a couple of minutes.' Or perhaps he might have spoken the right words but with just a hint of irritation or impatience.

It's likely the moment would have passed, the blessing would have been missed, two people would have gone away as empty as they had arrived.

The take away message is that we should pray fervently for blessing and we should expect to receive it - but we should not have preconceived notions of what it will look like when it comes, and we should guard against impatience and irritation.

The fact is, Father will answer our prayers on his terms and in his way - not ours. Our role is to accept what comes with deep gratitude, whatever it looks like.

Read a brief review of the book (includes several ways to buy a copy).

*Copyright 2008 Roy Godwin, Dave Roberts. The Grace Outpouring published by David C Cook. Publisher permission required to reproduce. All rights reserved.

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