Over the summer months our fields have borne more resemblance to the Kalahari Desert than the lush grass one would expect in Suffolk. Our hay crop (like many others) was non-existent. A neighbouring farm spent over £6,000 on fertiliser, only for it to scorch and kill the grass because of the extreme heat over the summer. And yet, as I look out this week, the grass appears lush and green.
Despite its delicate structure and appearance, grass is surprisingly resilient. Most types of grass can survive extended periods of drought, and although they may look dead—visibly brown, and dry—they're often only dormant, awaiting the next rainstorm; and that is what has happened. We’ve had a couple of heavy downpours, one of which was over 60mm in an hour, and the grass has bounced back looking greener than ever.
Pictorially, the image of brown grass becoming green is something of a vision for me of the church, in all its contexts, if we are open to the possibilities and promises of God. For the last few years, the church in its inherited form, has been showing concerning signs of decline and decay. Yes, there are examples of new growth in some places, but these feel very much reliant on significant resourcing and involvement from others. Perhaps, a parallel can be found here in my efforts to keep my courgettes alive with intense watering and feeding over the summer, whilst most of the other plants around them die through drought.
I recently read a reflection from Brian Simmons, from his book ‘I hear His wisdom’, in which he speaks about God as the finisher. I found this helpful as well as encouraging. I have often reflected on the creative power of God; the God who begins new things – perhaps why I have a bias towards innovation and planting – but as Simmons suggest, we need to consider God as the finisher too; that the things He has begun, He will complete and finish even if we had previously thought they were dead.
As the recent rain has reminded me, growth can return, and plants can come alive again. I want to share something that Simmons wrote which the Holy Spirit used to grab my heart; something which I am beginning to sense is God’s word to the church, so I have adapted the words to fit this context and pray that this resonates with you too.
Today you stand at the threshold of a new beginning. All that is around you will change, and all that I have planted within you will now grow and bear fruit. For I have great things in store for you, things no one has ever proclaimed to you. Many speak of the rain that will soon fall, but I say, it will be a downpour on my church! Many speak of the fire, but they have never been consumed. But with my church, my fire will rage and not be contained by the structures and theories of men.
There are many who wish for a new day, but my church will be lifted suddenly into a season beyond your imagination or your dreams. For it will be My dream that will be fulfilled in My church. Many scoffers will be swept into My presence and become believers in one day. Many doubters of My power will leave their limitations and pursue Me as never before. The time of the great outpouring upon the church is near. It will be a day of repentance and a day of gathering. Those who ignore My truth will be ignored. Those who refuse to gather themselves together will be scattered even farther. For I will be worshipped in spirit and in truth.
So, stand firm in Me until I have become your confidence. Set your eyes upon Me and don’t be worried about your future and your calling, for I am the God who begins and completes, the Alpha and the Omega. You have seen Me many times as the Beginning—now you will see me as the great Finisher!
I am not suggesting that these words of hope (and prophecy?) will guarantee numeric growth and success for the church in worldly terms, nor a return to Christendom. What I do however believe, is that something fresh is breaking out, and God, through His Holy Spirit, will finish this too. Church undoubtedly will look different than before, but it will still be familiar as long as we keep Jesus at the centre, are reliant upon the Spirit for growth, and hold fast to the promises and possibilities of our Heavenly Father.
“I pray with great faith for you, because I’m fully convinced that the One who began this glorious work in you will faithfully continue the process of maturing you and will put his finishing touches to it until the unveiling of our Lord Jesus Christ!” Philippians 1:6 (The Passion Translation)
CEO, Rural Ministries
Push out even deeper
Our next event 20th October, Lee Abbey, Devon
Jesus invited some seasoned fishermen to do something out of the ordinary – to go beyond what they were used to and where they were used to doing it. We believe that the call of God on pioneers and innovative practitioners today is very much the same. If this resonates with you, come and be part of a larger conversation with like-minded people; hear how Rural Ministries can help you where you are and how you, in turn, could help others.
The day begins at 10am and will run through to 4.30pm, including space to pray, feed back what the Holy Spirit is saying, and together to identify the next steps. Morning and afternoon refreshments and lunch are included.
This day is being facilitated by Rural Ministries, RuralFX, ReSource and the Lee Abbey Team. Tickets: £10 Click here for information and booking