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Ministers’ Letter

Minister’s Letter

JULY 2021

 

“So, Grandpa, what did you do during the great Lockdown of 2020 and 2021?”

Just like we could ask our grandparents and great grandparents what they did during the two World Wars, so our grandchildren and great grandchildren are going to be able to ask – So, Grandpa, what did you do during the great Lockdown of 2020 and 2021? Were you obedient and stayed indoors or at home when you were told to, or were you disobedient and drove past castles and other things? Did you wear a mask and not sing in church? Or were you something of a rebel?

Hopefully, when you read this article your lockdown ordeal will be a thing of the past. You, and others around you, will be trying to formulate what ‘normal’ will become as the days unfold but it will be wonderful! Of course, I’m writing this ‘with the future in mind’ hoping and praying that we will be living the dream of no more lockdown etc.

Continuing with the future in mind, I’m reminded of a verse from Romans chapter 12, where Paul writes – “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” (Romans 12:2) I would like to encourage you to do three things as you begin to unravel what the ‘new normal’ will become. They are – “Reframe, Rethink and Re-story”.

 Reframe. Many different things happened to us during lockdown. Our movements were restricted as was our social interaction. For some it wasn’t a ‘big deal’. For others it was life changing. So, in looking back on it all – both the good and the bad – perhaps now would be a real life-changing moment as we ‘reframe’.  Take everything that happened; how it affected you or impacted your life and possibly the lives of your family and try to get another perspective on it all. Like putting a new frame on an old picture.  As you begin to re-frame your thoughts and perceptions of what this ‘new normal’ will be like, give God a free hand in helping you to see it through His eyes. Allow yourself the freedom of seeing / understanding who you are and can be in Him and how He can continue to make this happen.

This will give you the opportunity to ‘Rethink’ – to see the transformation that has taken place in your life allowing you to set fresh goals, taking hold of new opportunities and trying to see how He, the Holy Spirit, will help you to achieve this. In Romans 12 verse 2, Paul speaks of being transformed by the renewing of your mind. JB Phillips translates that verse as ‘don’t let the world squeeze you into its mould’. Give yourself that freedom to allow God to set you free from the way the world, or others, would expect you to be. An opportunity to be that ‘new creation in Him’ that comes from believing and trusting in Jesus Christ.

This leads us to the Re-story process. Constructing new meaning from old narratives, to write the story of our lives differently from now on. Not always an easy thing to do, but better than remaining stuck in the old ways. In 2010, several things happened in my life that changed me and set me on a new path. I suffered a breakdown which ultimately led to a breakthrough for me. I tried to take my own life and ended up in a clinic for 6 weeks. Hours of counselling and lectures on a whole range of topics helped me to gradually understand what brought me that place and how I was to re-story my life. Bad perceptions that were ‘learned’ in the first place had to be ‘re-learned’ as I went through the process, allowing me to “Reframe, Rethink and Re-Story” my life, bringing about an experiential transformation of thinking, perception and living.

Being in the clinic was like being in ‘lockdown’. The euphoria of being ‘released’ (as it were) soon changed as the reality of my situation sunk in. The pain and hurt for my family, the loss of job, career and living (not only for me but for my wife too as she stood by my side) was devastating and it threatened to overwhelm and destroy me. But we had some very close friends who ‘stuck closer than a brother / sister’ and who helped us through those times.

On Christmas Day, 2010, we landed at Heathrow Airport in freezing conditions without much to our names, but God is faithful, He will not let you be tried, tempted, or tested, beyond what you can endure and will give you the strength to stand up under it. (1 Cor 10:13) The ‘Reframing, Rethinking and Re-storying’ process was still in its infant stages. Today, thanks be to God, we are witnesses that this transformation can take place by the renewing of our minds.

What will you do? Can these three things, “Reframe, Rethink and Re-story”, help you to create a new normal? I pray that it will.

God bless you.

Bennie Harms – Lay pastor (Addington and Shirley Methodist Churches)