For those who have been waiting for the next entry on my blog, thank you for your patience. It’s over a year since the last posting and it’s great to be back!
So why have there been no entries for such a long time? The answer is both simple and complex. Simple in that just over a year ago I picked up a virus on one of my travels, which really knocked me out and left me with symptoms that it’s taken me over a year to recover from. Complex in that this has coincided with the biggest change in the structure of Ellel Ministries since the work was founded back in 1986.
Just as there are definite seasons in the yearly calendar and weather cycles, there are equally definite seasons in life, and the transition between these seasons can sometimes be like negotiating a sea of uncertainty in the middle of a spiritual war. At least, that’s what it’s felt like for me.
Instinctively, we all like the comfort and security which stability and familiarity bring – but at the same time, I’ve learnt that the very things we love about such comforts can become barriers to growth and the new seasons that God has prepared for us.
Last year, when I was struggling with the virus, and had to speak at one of our leadership meetings, I sensed a strong urge from the Lord to look up the life-cycle of the lobster. This was definitely not a conventional “word from the Lord”! I could easily have resisted such apparent stupidity as being a silly idea. But when I did a simple search on the Internet, I quickly realised that it really was a word from the Lord!
As a result, I understood something very simple, but very profound at the same time, which the Lord was trying to teach me. This was a lesson which was very pertinent to my own personal situation at that time, but also of great relevance to the changes that were afoot within the structure of the Ministry.
I discovered that if the lobster resists change, it dies! By the time a lobster is fully grown, aged between six and eight years, it will have wriggled out of its external skeleton – that tough outer protective shell – about 30 times and grown a new and larger one on each occasion, into which the growing lobster can expand for the next season of its life. This external skeleton is the lobster’s protective covering, without which it would be easy prey to the many hungry predators that inhabit the ocean floor.
The shell of a lobster, however, is inflexible, so as the flesh of the lobster grows, it comes up against its own external skeleton. Only by splitting this open and shedding the shell can the lobster develop towards maturity.
Having shed its skin, the lobster then absorbs excess water into its flesh in order to expand its size, so that when the new skin forms it is big enough to provide a protective covering which is adequate for the next season of growth. The lobster then sets about eating its own shell so as to quickly take in lots of calcium, out of which to make the new shell – the old shell gets absorbed into the new and is re-formed for a new purpose.
As I thought about this extraordinary process and realised that without moving into its new season, the lobster would die, I sensed the Lord speaking deep into my spirit with a very simple word, “change or die’. If we do not welcome the new season, the old season will become the limitation which will rob you of your future potential in God.
A lobster is at its most vulnerable during its seasons of transition, so at those times, it needs to carefully hide itself away in a safe place in the rocks while the process takes place. Then, when it re-emerges, into the next season of its life, it is fully equipped for the new challenges of an enlarged existence.
As I meditated on all this, I knew that the Lord was speaking, not just to me personally about my own life, but also about what He was doing with the work of Ellel Ministries. Both have been going through a season of transition. Increasingly the development and management of the work is being shared with reliable leaders from a younger generation and I am preparing for a different season, where the major focus of all my activities will be mentoring the next generation and writing down all the experiences that God has taken us through in understanding the key place healing has in the work of discipleship.
So, right now, I am emerging from a period of transition into a new season. It feels as though, like the lobster, I have been hiding in the rocks during a season of vulnerability. But I am really excited and ready for what lies ahead and it is totally thrilling to see how God is raising up new leaders in so many different parts of the world who are wonderfully equipped for taking the work forward.
In the past few months, therefore, I have been developing a lobster mentality – welcoming God-inspired change when it occurs and developing a tough, new skin to guard and protect all that He is doing in the new season.
So, the Blog is back! The new season is here, and if you want to find out for yourself about the life-cycle of a lobster I suggest you do your own Internet search. You will be amazed at what you discover. I pray that it will both challenge and inspire you in the same way that God used it to challenge me!