After the most stupidly busy December on record, when I am sure I radiated more panic than “Good News for all humankind”, I feel obliged to think about how I might do things differently next year. Advent and Christmas deserves better than me just trying to work out how many more things I can cram in.
Thankfully January is looking saner. “An empty diary is a happy diary” a clergy friend once said to me. Well it’s definitely not empty but, at the moment, it looks as if there is enough time to prioritise the things that need prioritising, do some of the things I’ve been putting off, and even cope with an emergency or two that wasn’t foreseen. This is a happy diary.
On Wednesday I’m going to see my Bishop for my biennial MDR (Ministerial Development Review). Yes – it’s as scary as it sounds! We will look back at the last two years in some detail, and reflect on what the priorities and hopes are for the future might be. I’m hoping it will be useful – and I have a whole load of ideas of things I’d like to do for Church and community as well as family and piano pupils for this year.
And I think, even if I only do one or two of them, that will probably mean walking away from something else.
During our all age service at Skipwith on Sunday, we acted out the story of Jesus and Peter’s first meeting. Jesus was talking to the crowds on the sea edge. It was so busy it was getting dangerous, so he asked a local fisherman (Peter) if he’d take him in his boat so that he could teach people whilst standing in the boat and shouting back to the shore. When it was all over, Jesus suggested to Peter that he did a bit of fishing before taking him back to land. Peter said there was no point – he’d been out all night and hadn’t caught a thing. Jesus insisted. Peter rowed into deeper waters and let down his nets, and what do you know? Mountains of fish – so many fish it broke the nets.
This, we think, when we read the story, is the “Ta-da!” moment. It’s a miracle! Look at all those fish! But I think something much more extraordinary happens in this story. Because when they get back to land, Jesus asks Peter to change his life and follow him, and the really weird thing is – he does.
He walks away from the best catch of his life. He walks away from goodness knows how much market value fish. He walks away from success and financial security, and follows something – someone – that his gut tells him is worth more.
We are all full of New Year’s resolutions. We expect such a lot of ourselves. We expect that we can take on more and more, try harder and harder. But the reality is, we can’t follow a dream, without walking away from something else. We need to know when to say “no”, and “not yet” and “not anymore” if we want to live good, balanced lives where we are able to say “yes” to our genuine callings.
This year I might do some walking away so I can do some following on. What about you?