Sunday, April 26, 2015

How a women's-group-hater came to lead a women's group

The New Scientist recently published an article on research that has been done on witnesses of the meteor crash in Russia a few years ago. It seems that all the effects reported exactly match those experienced by Saul (soon to be Paul) on the road to Damascus. Except possibly the being spoken to by God bit. Or if it did include that no-one mentioned it. (They were in Russia after all.)

Whatever you make of that the fact is that the phrase 'a road to Damascus experience' is still used today to describe a life-changing moment of enlightenment.

Throughout the bible God spoke to man, even appeared in various forms, and lives were changed. In the centuries since Christ people have still had these moments where they claim to hear God speaking to them. These are people who have sometimes brought major change about in the world or in their communities or countries. Even today God still speaks very clearly to some people, not necessarily world-changers but life-changing words.

But not to me.

I've never had that sort of experience of God, the sort where I can hear him as clearly as if he's standing next to me, clarifying what decision I should make or affirming my place in him. I've spoken to loads of people who have had that experience and I have no cause to doubt their sincerity; indeed I have envied them.

Yet I am pretty sure that if God did speak to me or do something miraculous in my presence - something major like restoring sight to a blind man for instance - it wouldn't take me long to rationalise it and to explain it and I wouldn't be alone in that: the disciples spent three years with Jesus, watching him raise the dead, healing lepers and countless other miracles, yet time and again they still doubted, were confused, uncertain.

Sometimes I think what I have - which is just faith - is better as I'm less likely to trip up or be tripped up by my emotions. My faith doesn't depend on how I feel. It's just there.

On the other hand, as I say, I do get envious and wish God would be more visible in my life. Yet when I look back, I see evidence of God's presence everywhere. I'm a drifter by nature; the sort that life happens to rather than the sort that makes life happen. So things come along and what do you know? It turns out to be at just the right time.

But I can't help thinking God has a slightly warped sense of humour.

Throughout my life I've avoided women's groups. When women's weekends were organised in Linden I'd back away sharply. 'No thanks, not for me.' Now I find myself leading one in Zac's. And that's another thing: a leader? Me?

Shy little Liz who wouldn't say shoo to a cross pigeon and who hates women's groups is leading a women's group in Zac's. That's not me. Not my doing. Yet I love it. And the women.

A road to Damascus revelation? Maybe not. God at work? Almost certainly.

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