In today’s reading from David Cole’s book Celtic Advent, he talks about Brendan, a sixth-century Irish monk, who is most famous for his seven year long voyage to the ‘Isle of the Blessed.’ Historians can’t quite separate fact and folklore within the writings, but that isn’t really the point of today’s reading. Before Brendan sets out he looks for confirmation that his journey is ‘God’s will’ and not simply a giant vanity project. He asks for confirmation from the other monks, to ask what they think of what he’s planning to do. Clearly, none of them thought he was stark-staring mad, or else we wouldn’t have the resulting twenty nine chapters of Voyage of St Brendan The Abbott.
I wouldn’t say that I hear the voice of God as an audible experience, but there are certain things that I look for when I am trying to discern that an idea is not just a brilliant wheeze my head came up with, and might instead be the promptings of God. Consistency is one thing. It’s got to be in the ball park of what I can actually do and am interested in. I don’t believe that God will be sending me to do outreach work in far flung places. Neither do I have the gift of prophecy, healing or speaking in tongues. I don’t think God needs me to have those skills for what he’s asked me to do. If it doesn’t fit with my skill-set it isn’t going to be from God. I’m not leading worship any time soon.
What I do love to do, is write and study. I would not in any way call myself a bible teacher (my degree is in the wrong ‘ology’ for a start), but that doesn’t mean I haven’t picked up a thing or two over the last eighteen years. I like to filter the real world through the Bible, to aim to better understand what it might be saying to people today. In essence, I think my skill is to make the bible relatable, especially to people who might be newcomers to it. I’m also good at admin and I really enjoy doing it. For some people it’s simply boring office work. To me it’s not, it’s part of my skill set. So, let me do the paperwork and you go off and do what you’re good at.
All of us have gifts and talents, although we might not think they are given to us by God. But, we can all do something. Brendan was good at navigating his way across oceans in a tiny boat, while I’m no loss to the Royal Yachting Association. Have you ever stopped and thought what your gifts might be? Can you identify anyone who might need them? Well, there you go. That’s God…
Edge of the World – Iona.
Inspired by Brendan’s voyage.