Signs? Of course they are

Reading too much into it?

Back home – Wednesday 8th February, having left Oliva January 8th… 4 weeks in England (oh yes with one lunch in Scotland – no haggis nor anything too indigenous as we had a pizza! – but I did get a haggis later so did not miss out totally). Our time was mostly tied to Gayle and her work but with a lot of connections outside of that too… but the journey there and back, now that was interesting.

On the way up as we drove through Rouen, the place where Joan of Arc was tried and burnt at the stake we were within centimetres and milli-seconds of being totally broadsided by a massive truck, the driver having drifted off. What made it more dangerous we were in road works and the lanes were narrowed with nowhere to go. Horns, brakes and a last minute adjustment so that we were not ‘broadsided’. We have learnt in these challenging times to pray before setting off and during any journey.

We drove to England in our 13 year old, not very low kilometre-ish van, otherwise known as San Lorenzo’s furgo. It has served us well, particularly in our drive around Spain when we followed the path of the expulsions of the Muslims from Spain… But now, a new journey awaits and so…

The last day of Gayle’s involvement in the Authentic Business ‘Ignite’ conference, I take it upon myself to drive out of Judith’s (daughter’s) drive. I have to give the full picture… left hand drive, the wall is very low to the right, all windscreens and mirrors are covered in frost. I lay that out in honest detail as nothing that follows of course is my fault.

I reverse and totally unprovoked the wall – with a little awkward pillar attached – clearly moves out with a vengeance and takes (literally) the whole front off the immaculate Nissan NV200. Definitely not my fault and I suspect that the bricks in the wall while they were clay had a difficult background (childhood?), hence the venom with which they attacked the van.

So, refusing to acknowledge that I had anything to do with it, I stopped the van to see that the whole front of the van was now on the drive way. Not a good sight! Two hours later and a purchase of some mighty sticky duck tape and it was as good as new, well provided one viewed it in the dark of night and from 40 metres away.

A couple of days later and we were off to Cumbria – hence a short drive for the lunch in Scotland en route via Hadrian’s wall. What a great time we had there with myself, Gayle, Andrew Cua, Lee Ann and Brian Thompson. Sight and even more sight. And they loved the dog!

Drove home to Judith’s – what a sweet running van I thought. Just before Oxford. What!! Red engine light that means – stop now… and I mean stop NOW, what part of NOW do you not understand light comes on. So intrusive! OK… on the hard shoulder and the engine shut down. But eventually via a few stops on the hard shoulder and we managed to limp home – 25 mph top speed on the slight inclines and 50mph (wow, scary) top speed on the motorway. But home we got.

Phoned the Nissan dealer. We can take it to diagnose the issue in 6 days time. Ah well, postpone our date to come home. One week later, fixed!!!! So off to Bath to spend time with Israel and Catharine. The van has not been running this well in years – what a good job they have done.

Good job? 100miles on the road and that red light shows up, loss of power. Eventually get there and back to Jude’s. The Nissan dealer… yes, we can take it in but will need it here for a week and instantly quote two likely possibilities – either of which to fix is more than the value of the van!! Not a good prognosis.

Back up… earlier we have a voice message left us from a friend in Bristol. A voice message for Gayle with all she is involved in… The latter part is – ‘look to generate direction, do not look to generate power’ – a message that is not with respect to the van but with respect to her work… but signs?

Vehicles have always been symbolic for both Gayle and I – symbolising the phase of our journey through life, work and purpose. We know that there are huge shifts for Gayle that have to come into focus in the next few months.

So we decide we cannot be another week in the UK… and perhaps more to the point decide that we cannot throw yet more money than the vehicle is worth into it. So Monday 6th Feb – exactly 4 weeks after arriving in the UK we drive to the channel tunnel, seeking to submit as we drive to the prophetic word – do not seek to generate power but set direction, acknowledging that the direction is pretty temporary, direction held together by sticky tape!

Day 1 – do not exceed 55mph (power) but set direction. End of Day 1 sleep in Rouen the place that was all but the end of us on the way to the UK. Day 2 – driving likewise and ended the day 20 minutes from the Spanish border in the very cute place that is both French and Basque – St Jean de Luz.

Day 3 – off we go, happy to be back in Spain, even carefully taking some high passes in with snow on the ground on the high places. 220 kms from home on comes the red light. It comes on, I slow, and it just keeps coming on again and again. Leaves us driving up inclines at 40km/h (25mph) with trucks bearing down on us at 60mph. Prayed – come help us earth (Rev. 12) and then realised there is a natural element to help us – we are at 3300ft above sea level (Arragon) – and the road will take us to the coast (Valencia) – we managed to free-wheel for some 20 kms as we dropped. We had not seen such speeds in 4 days!!! Who needs an engine? It saved our engine, and the red light stayed off for all that downhill. Down to sea level – yes added time to our journey, but we limped home, now absolute top speed of 35mph / 58km/h, and made it back to our street!!!!!

[Signs are two-fold in Scripture: they point to the reality that they signify and they are the means by which the reality is unfolded and manifests. Hence we drove in a way that sought to fulfil the sign. Signs by themselves are not enough… If we respond to them like that we are missing it – bit like a dog: point at something and if the dog is alert it looks at the finger (sign) not at the object that is being pointed to… a bit like ‘wars, rumours of wars’… the relevance is not in the sign but in the shift taking place in the heavens; when you see these things, lift your eyes’.]

Home. No question San Lorenzo has come to its end and we need a new vehicle. Practically yes, but it is a sign and a new vehicle is needed, particularly for Gayle. We have set temporary direction – the front is taped up – but we cannot yet generate power.

A sign… yes we figure so. We don’t think we are reading too much into this, and I think if you knew the behind the scenes story you would agree.

Our little adventure… but ready for a more serious adventure, that of finding direction and empowerment for the next phase of two little coins into the system.

Pentecost: a recalibration

Pentecost was a great festival for Israel, one in which they celebrated the giving of the law which shaped their whole life, not just spiritually, but socially. This is what gave them identity. Internally the debated the interpretation of the law but those who lived by it were included as part of ‘Israel’. They were led by the law. Post-Pentecost those who were the children of God were those who were led by the Spirit (Ro. 8:14).

The events in Jerusalem that first Pentecost were deeply challenging to the Jews who had gathered. Looking forward as they were to the ‘age to come’ marked by the two-fold marker of resurrection and the tangible presence of the Spirit of God, it is not surprising that many simply said ‘these are drunk’. The alternative had too many implications. God-activity always presents us with implications!!

The sting was that the One crucified and therefore a criminal or rebel in the eyes of Rome, but a blasphemer or cursed by God in the eyes of the Jew, had been exalted by God and now was the one doing what the God of Israel promised he would do, that he would pour out on them from on high the Spirit (Is. 32:15). Whether those listening made the jump that this human Jesus raised from the dead was God or not is a mute point, but those who came to faith in Jesus certainly understood that he was in a different category to Moses. Moses had gone up on a high mountain and come down with the law; Jesus had gone up on high and from there poured out the Spirit. On the day that Moses came down there was carnage in the camp and 3000 people died; on the day that the Spirit came down 3000 went through the waters of baptism. Another level all together. This was not a little more of the same, but had serious implications for how they as Israel had been shaped (and shaped by God) for the previous centuries.

Following Jesus was not mildly controversial. It was nuts!

Following Jesus challenges how we have previously thought. There is a revaluation of everything. The law the greatest gift from heaven is totally recalibrated by Pentecost. The law could no longer shape the future, nor define who is ‘in’.

We are off in a few days time in our ‘furgoneta’ which we have renamed as ‘el furgo de San Lorenzo’ (never sure if shortening furgoneta to furgo allows me to use the masculine definite article or not… and as if that is the only Spanish language question I have!!). San Lorenzo was martyred on August 10th 258AD in Rome. He upset the powers, was told that he had to bring the wealth of the church to the Emperor as he had not been a good boy in his criticisms of the Imperial power. He did just that, bringing in the poor, the beggars, the blind and those despised by power, saying in fulfilment of the Emperor’s request he was bringing God’s treasures to him. He had a way of valuing people which if Imperial power had adopted his means of valuation would have recalibrated the Empire. They did not adopt it and instead roasted him at the stake. We have tracked with this saint (August 10th is an important date) and as we drive through Spain travelling this time to the birth place of Franco (which is also the birth place of the founder of the Spanish socialist party) we will be calling for a recalibration to flow through the land. We cannot calibrate things by the right or left wing of politics. Both wings, particularly when they move to the extremes, simply view people as there to serve the system. Jesus refused to serve the system, but came as servant to all. San Lorenzo seemed to follow. I hope we can do more than drive a furgo with a logo on it. I hope we have some measure of authenticity in our lives that will produce a little result in the land.

Pentecost recalibrates everything. Pentecostal people have to do so likewise. Maybe it is time to renounce all other ideologies and flags? I certainly think San Lorenzo would encourage us to, and I suspect he is echoing what we read in Acts 2.


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