Thursday, 19 April 2012

Nevertheless is a brilliant word

What are you aiming for?  I like to have targets.  Last Christmas I was given a GPS watch, which records how fast you are moving plus lots of other stats when I am running, cycling and walking.  When I am running it provides a target to beat although I suffered the disappointment that I could not improve my previous best every time I ran!  I use it on the bike as well but the targets are not always time related.  When the road is flattish I am time focused but when I get to the hills especially the 25% incline that is Church Hill in Cudham for example it becomes a personal battle against the tarmac.  Can I climb the hill and survive? 

However in my work I have to set a different sort of target.  When you work with vulnerable people the progression is more roller coaster than steady improvement.  Sometimes simply hanging on without embarrassing yourself by screaming is the only way through!!  In reality all people take steps forward and steps backwards, it is just that some backward steps are illegal or dangerous.  And it can be seemingly very small things that present big obstacles. 

The Jericho Road Project has grown to now include a significant number of people from addictive backgrounds, criminal backgrounds and generally difficult troubled backgrounds.  One of my targets is very basic - It is simply maintaining every part of the Project as a positive place to be and not allow people's past issues to cause damage to each other.  The result is that people have to become part of the solution for each other, it is the only way forward with the scale we are at.  That is why time spent helping people choose to forgive or help them learn to communicate well with each other is my time well spent.

Maintaining a BIG target (Vision) and also being satisfied with the day to day nitty gritty of helping people is essential.  I have found the words in Jeremiah 33 to be so encouraging.  Jeremiah described the destruction and bloodshed in the land (in recent weeks I have heard and seen new examples of the brokenness of people).  He then uses the word NEVERTHELESS and it is the most brilliant word in chapter 33 - it could say 'despite everything' 'regardless of what you have done or had done to you' - Nevertheless, God says he will bring health and healing to [his city]; [He] will heal his people and let them enjoy abundant peace and security.

This is a target I have for every person I meet.  It shapes how I speak to people.  It reflects why we keep going with people who let us down.  It is why we take risks with people.  It is why when people say there is no point trying anymore, I am able to say there is hope.  It's why we work with some of the most difficult people in our society.