In the morning, I will loading up my ute and setting out on a five road trip with my eldest son who is 14. We are headed for the Snowy Mountain regions where we intend to do some exploring. Right now, I’m not long back from having been to a Bon Jovi concert with my wife, bro in law and his wife. I have to say I was a little disappointed in the concert and this country boy found the large crowd of around 60’000 people a real struggle.
During the concert I couldn’t help but think of how great it will be to get on the country road. Setting up camp beside a river or lake. Fishing rod in hand. Teaching my son how to tie a hook to his line. Preparing and cooking some freshly caught fish. Hopefully over a camp fire. And even though it is summer, we might even get to see some snow.
The truth is, I have become a little stale. The busyness of life has worn me down a little. So much that I didn’t think I even had the energy to take my son away. But the Lord has been good and has granted me the energy to do so. I have to say that I find the bush and waters refreshing for my soul. For myself its a place where I can truly reconnect with God. When I sit on a hill / mountain and watch the sun come up or down. Or beside a river / lake and watch the reflection of the sun rise or sun set it stirs something deep within and the truth of Psalm 23 comes alive deep within my inner man.
The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want. He leads me beside still waters. He makes me lay down in green pastures. And he restores my soul.
There is an unnatural busyness of life that urban life creates. There is constant unnatural noise. The noise of car’s, trucks, bikes, music and the groaning of the house etc for 24 hours in the back ground. There is constant light 24 hours a day. Light from street lights outside. Lights from passing cars. Then here is the constant busyness of thought life. The next email to send or answer. The next person whom I need to phone or answer a call from. The busyness of urban chaplaincy ministry slowly eroding ones stamina and inner fortitude.
Don’t misunderstand me here. I love the ministry work I do. I have come to love the area in which I live. The people I know. The many friends I have made. In fact my wife and I met one such friend at the concert tonight who was working there. What are the chances of bumping into someone we know among the many staff and the huge crowd. It was a God moment. The lady in particular called out to me. Came up and spoke and shared with excitement how she had been there most of the day. She had been on a pension for so long and the work she was doing was a real blessing for her. She was walking taller. Her head held higher. Her growing confidence was a treasure to see. This Christmas was going to be a real treat for her and her family. One that was much different then the it was for many previous years. And it was a real pleasure to see the fruit of the gospel taking root in her life.
I now love urban ministry. It wasn’t always the case. I came kicking and screaming before the Lord into the urban environment. I’m a farm boy. A country bumpkin. I told the Lord, “Send me bush among those whose way of life I know. ” But he insisted and he convinced me in the ways that only he can convict that indeed he called me into the urban area of life. But not just any urban area. Into one of Sydney’s most looked down on areas by the society in which we live. And for what ever reason it is – the Lord is causing me to be fruitful and effective in reaching out with a hand of friendship to many in this area.
But, there is a cost. John Williamson one of Australia’s best known country singers wrote the lyrics,
Give me a home among the gum trees
With lots of plum trees
A sheep or two, a kangaroo
A clothesline out the back
Verandah out the front
And an old rocking chair
Truthfully the song doesn’t paraphrase well into an urban environment.
Give me a home among the flats.
With lots of street lights.
A truck or two, a burning car.
The neighbors wall out the back.The busy street out the front.
I’m sure you get my drift… It’s time for me once again to regain some equilibrium of life. To once again enjoy a different rhythm of life. And prayerfully to help my son to build up a healthy sense of a rhythm of life. And for us together to re-build a rhythm of life between each other and God and for both of us to come back to the normality of life recharged, restored, energized and ready to face the challenges of life once again.