I was living in Lincoln at the time and working, on a freelance basis, with a firm of Land Agents in the City. I had a strong feeling that God wanted me to work in Peterborough, but not necessarily to move there. Andrew, one of the partners in the firm of Land Agents, had moved to work in Peterborough, so I wrote to him to ask if he would let me know if any positions became available in the Peterborough Office (either temporary or permanent).
I often refer to Andrew as the best boss I have ever had, a real gentleman. He very kindly wrote back to me and said that my letter had come “out of the blue” and that there were presently no positions that he could offer me, but that he would discuss this further with me when he next came to Lincoln.
Meanwhile, I was thinking about the journey to Peterborough and that if I did get a job there I would need to find lodgings during the week, as it was too far to do a daily commute. I was aware of two churches in Peterborough that were linked to my church in Lincoln; one was Peterborough Community Church (this was at the time a part of the Plumbline group of churches) and the other was Open Door Church.
By the time Andrew came to Lincoln, there was a job available (in the Building Department). That immediately made me think of the Plumbline group of churches and that I may find accommodation via the Peterborough Community Church notice board. I duly went for an interview with the Building Department and they were happy for me to work in that Department. However, I felt I didn’t want to leave my friends in the Land Agents in Lincoln without anyone and asked Andrew if I might stay there another couple of weeks and start at Peterborough in the New Year of 2002.
As they were wanting someone to start immediately in the Building Department in Peterborough, Andrew re-arranged things and I was given a job working for a partner in an office next to the front door of the building. I therefore thought “Open Door” church and phoned that church to ask about accommodation. A lady named Val answered the phone (the name Val means worthy and I am reminded of Matthew 10:11 “Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave.”). Val immediately said that she had a spare room in her house and that I could stay with her during the week. Which brings to mind Isaiah 65:24 “Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.”
I was a bit upset about not being able to live in my own home in Lincoln and questioned whether or not I had indeed heard from God about working in Peterborough. I therefore sought my housegroup leaders’ thoughts on the matter. I believed that God had given me a scripture to confirm that I should follow my “gut” feeling that He wanted me to work in Peterborough and that I wouldn’t have any more confirmation until I moved. The scripture God had given me was Isaiah 55:9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts”
So, without mentioning anything about this scripture, I met with my housegroup leaders; the wife said I should not go to Peterborough, but the husband told me that when he had a similar dilemma once in the past, God had given him the following scripture: Isaiah 55:9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts”. I was amazed, but that was all the confirmation I needed to have.
The firm of Land Agents were situated across the grass from Peterborough Cathedral (another prompt I received to write this story now was that I watched “Does Christianity have a Future” on BBC I player this evening and Peterborough Cathedral was featured at the end of the programme).
On a Wednesday lunchtime, the Dean had scheduled a half an hour “Biblical Exposition” at noon, followed by soup and sandwiches. It was a great delight to be able to attend these sessions. I remember that at the time I was working in Peterborough one of the series was on the Fruit of the Spirit (Galations 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law”).
Another thing I was able to take part in (and probably the hidden reason for God wanting me to go to Peterborough) was a course run by the then Peterborough Community Church (now KingsGate Community Church ) entitled “Cleansing Streams“.
I worked with the Land Agents in Peterborough for six months and, at the end of that time, there was another example of Andrew being a great boss.
An overwhelming sense of sadness had come upon me one week and my housemate, Val, was staying with her pastor’s family so I had no one to talk to about it.
I remember going into the City shopping centre one lunchtime and entering an accessories shop to buy a present for a friend in Lincoln (Angela, the girl who had driven me to Wath Upon Dearne to pick up my Peugeot 205). As I reached for something on the top shelf I heard the song “Reach for the Stars” playing in the shop
What I believed God was saying was that, although the job I was doing was all very well and good, it was now time to leave and that He had a greater purpose for my life.
A day or so later, I arrived in the office one morning and was making myself a cup of tea when Andrew came in and asked how I was; he could see from my expression that all was not well and so he immediately asked me to come to his office, where I burst into tears and he offered me his handkerchief. I couldn’t help but smile as I “reached for the stars”, for that was the design on his handkerchief and another confirmation that God was wanting me to “Reach for the Stars”. I did, of course, launder the handkerchief for Andrew before returning it and took a photo for posterity.