Apparently the economy has not been boosted at all by the Olympic factor… but surely morale and hope have? Surely something has been going on over these amazing days when it feels as if there has been favour all over us? Hearts have been lifted, our national community has come together to celebrate, to release emotion and wonder in unprecedented ways: there has been a welcome given to the nations, a recognition of one another – and also a recognition of ourselves, even a renewed sense of identity, as we have looked back at our history in the opening ceremony and seen how far we have come as a multi-cultural modern society. Whether a generation has been inspired to become sportsmen and women remains to be seen, but certainly inspiration of some sort has been tangibly in the air.
Is this anything to do with all the prayer going on? Is the favour of God being manifested on Great Britain and Northern Ireland – the United Kingdom – before our eyes? I’m sure there are lots of people who would rightly be cynical and point to all the continued problems, but how often have we had this amount of ‘feelgood’ factor in this country? Can this translate into spiritual blessing for the nation and the nations? Surely that is what we have been praying FOR! There is a sense of community across ethnic divides – look at Mohammed Farah as an example, an African British Muslim taken to our hearts! There is an embracing of diversity, tolerance and freedom; we have found something to agree on – maybe not the most important thing in the world, sportsmanship and excellence, physical endeavour and new world records – but all focussed round a younger generation with potential to fulfil. Many mothers and fathers have made huge sacrifices to get their talented offspring into this position – the laying down of lives and time and money, multiplications of Charlotte Dujardin’s mother giving her inheritance up for her daughter’s sake to pass on a generational blessing.
For me in my prophetic and personal journey the generational issue is the big one. When I saw the torch brought into the Olympic stadium, passed from David Beckham to Sir Steve Redgrave to 7 (yes 7) young athletes who had been chosen and sponsored as representatives… when they in turn took it and ran with it, then stopped to be embraced by the old champions in blessing before all 7 carryied their torches to ignite the cauldron of the nations… What a prophetic moment!
This sort of action has been a major focus of our Mercy Cry prayer – especially in February this year; many times we have deliberately spiritually ‘passed on the baton’ to the next generation with blessing and encouragement: this always takes courage, trust and humility, just as it did for the old athletes to give up their own chance of lighting the Olympic cauldron in London. So to me ‘this is that‘: before the eyes of the world they did what we had already done in the place of prayer. It was a moment reminiscent of the day I sat in the NEC and heard the announcement about HOPE 08 and said to the Lord, “but she will only be three and a half”! Only this time it wasn’t something happening in the church for the sake of the nation, but in public, in the nation and in front of the nations of the world! Another titbit for those who have been following my intricate path over the past few years: I was also amused that this happened on 27.7.12. 27=3×9 and 9.9.9 was the ’emerge n see’ time when we were praying for a generation to come to maturity ready to emerge into the new era, so this date was effectively the 9.9.9 emerging generation of completion/fulfilment(7) of government/authority(12) 😉
I am encouraged and amazed by prophetic threads coming together in unexpected ways – but however profound, signs are not the fruit of fulfilment. We want to see salvation coming to these shores, transformation in society as Jesus is recognised and honoured, the presence of God drawing lost people to His love, breaking chains and setting captives free, healing minds, hearts and bodies, stirring young people with vision to take this message out to the ends of the earth… testimonies of new life that give glory to Him as they bring in His kingdom. Yet – maybe these athlete’s stories can be a start and maybe God’s favour and blessing on our nation in these Games is a doorway to much more. Surely the biggest challenge the church faces is that whatever the Lord is planning to do here, it is probably not going to look like it has in the past or anything else we have seen before! God does not seem so keen to stick His label on everything in the same way we are: He sends His rain on the righteous and the unrighteous, all of Creation displays His splendour and reflects His glory – not just the parts that tick all our boxes. Do you think that, despite the whole Greek gods thing, God Himself might have enjoyed the Olympic party as well? He has a reputation as a killjoy among those who don’t know Him, but, as for me – I bet He did!
Meanwhile, what were you doing on this auspicious day of Friday 27th July? To my amazement I found that my own journey unexpectedly dovetailed in with this same theme, underlining what I was seeing of a baton being passed across the generations!
At 8.15 on that Friday morning I was sitting in my father’s bath in Totnes, using my iPhone bell tower ringtone to join in with ‘all the bells’ and the 3 minute call to prayer that co-incided with it! I had travelled to Devon the day before to visit my step-mother in hospital after a major operation and to check on my dementing old dad. I need not have worried, as their 35 year old son, my half-brother, was doing a great job holding the fort, feeding Dad and taking him to visit Mum. It was a complete turnaround. As we sat in the garden that afternoon, my father expressed his gratitude that I had driven all the way down to help and his frustration that we were looking after him when he is the father and should be looking after us! After many unhappy visits over many years, including prayer teams I had led into that town focussing on generational issues and family healing – times which had often ended in issues of personal rejection for myself as a kind of backlash that I then had to carefully walk through as a living prayer – this was a complete reversal. I received affirmation, affection and release I have never experienced before – and I watched my younger brother being the adult, taking his place and organising everything.
It was amazing: as I left I knew I was free. Even though I had to leave early I was not rebuked, but thanked for my trouble! On the way home I hit traffic, so took a detour off the M5 and found myself driving in Somerset near where we lived when I was young. At about 10 years old I had been given a bicycle and had decided to take it on an adventure to a favourite place – Berrow Beach – so all these years later I now made for that remembered old haunt, a long stretch of windswept sand on the Bristol Channel south of Weston-super-Mare. It seemed a bit crazy, but It was a sunny afternoon, I wanted to – and there was no-one to tell me I couldn’t!
Here was a place that symbolised childhood freedom for me, so I was nervous about whether it would have changed: but no, you can still drive onto the beach and park and the long line of sand dunes where my mother drove us in her 60’s car so my brother and I could run and play are still accesible – though I couldn’t identify the one where I cut my right hand open on a piece of glass! It was as if I had gone back in time to ‘before’ – when I was carefree, before I was orphaned. And afterwards I could drive back through the village where we lived, past the old bungalow without the anger I met that day when I cycled home, happy but tired, from a worried father who was “about to call the police” because I had gone missing for so long!
I got home with 5 minutes to spare before the Olympic Opening ceremony: phew! What a day, what a journey, what a sea change: freedom and maturity for the younger generation! Yes, for me in all I have walked through as a daughter – but more than that, for all those to whom I am a parent or elder in any sense. Indeed, we need to see 3 generations of fathers and mothers humbly releasing blessing and resources, love and appreciation on the heads of those with their lives ahead of them – the ones who are called to lead us all into the future. And I want to be in the crowd cheering them on!