Late last year I was supposed to walk the cross, by prior arrangement, to Malmesbury Abbey on the Wednesday. I can’t recall the exact reason but something stopped me and so I changed the day to the Thursday. Unbeknown to me, the new Bishop of Bristol was visiting the Abbey that day and it was a real pleasure to meet Bishop Vivienne Faull. I was really taken by her enthusiasm and support for the walk and our meeting ended with a blessing. I suspect also I detected a slight smile of wry amusement at this strange man proposing to do something slightly left field!
The next day a friend of mine, someone who I had met through our voyage in 2018, was being consecrated as a Bishop and so I went to support him at the service in London. As I sat down in the non-clergy area a whole host of other bishops flooded in and suddenly I realised that I was sitting directly behind Bishop Viv! The old me would have simply thought something along the lines of ‘what are the chances of that?’ but the me I am today believes he detects God’s hand behind it. In a similar way, a good deed I felt called to enact followed by a thank you to an organisation via twitter, suddenly went viral and my account which normally sees around 5000 people a day suddenly soared to nearly 200 thousand to the extent the local press started reporting it in Glasgow. Given I only use twitter due to a dream in the first place I really do see God behind this and this makes me slightly nervous. All those good Christian folk out there will be chomping at the bit I’m sure, but my experience of God is very much hundreds of these types of things suddenly happening and of course at that point I have no control over my own destiny. That makes me nervous but then I look at our voyage last year. For all the right reasons Howard and I had to supply times and dates for arrival and that had to be really carefully thought through as lots of people were waiting for us. Thus we produced human control over our mission and when it started to test where we thought we were strong, parts failed and we experienced significant stress. What fascinated me was that we reached a point where everybody had to leave, as arranged and I was simply left on my own in a difficult place with God. At that point everything started to improve. People offered to help, clearly spiritual things occurred and in many ways those last few weeks were as enriching, if not more so, than the carefully planned ones.
Thus I have borrowed further from Arthur Blessitt and put an all terrain wheel on my cross. It is much bigger and absorbs the bumps far easier. We have intentionally not tried to put too much control on this next stage, deliberately putting this in God’s hands and not in our own. Part of me is again nervous, we are stepping out not just in faith but in risk and sometimes God’s use of historical testimony hasn’t been that brilliant for those making it, at least not in this life. Ahead of us stretches the road to York and it will take in major cities along the way. We are committed to this but anybody wishing to join us will be very welcome. There will be a blessing at Malmesbury Abbey on Ash Wednesday 6th March and we set off for Cirencester on Saturday 9th. If you are driving that road and see a middle aged over-weight man carrying a 12 foot cross, please feel free to beep.
I received some abuse on the road to the Abbey so shouting encouragement might be difficult to discern and of course, if you feel able, please pray for us.