Shekinah Christian Centre

Someone kindly paid for me to spend a night spent at the Skekinah Christian Centre, a retreat-cum-conference venue only a few miles from Salem Chapel, in the hills of Newchurch-in-Pendle. I had been looking forward to it; much as I love the home the Lord provides for me, the many commitments I have sometimes make it seem like a place of work, an office, an administrative centre. The prospect of having a night away with a Christian book, rugged scenery and little to distract, was rather appealing. Real, live fellowship with the saints is vital, and the Lord calls none to become reclusive, monkish idlers. Yet to spend time apart, much as the Lord was found up in the hills with none but the Father (e.g. Matthew 14:23) is a practice worthy of emulation.

Ahead of the excellent evening meal and before the daylight fled, I climbed the steep hill to the centre’s rear. It was wild and windy, but the views well rewarded the trouble. There, I was minded of four things:

The valleys are dark all around, but we must look up to the hills, to be reminded of Him who created the heavens and the earth. Too often, we look down rather than up; we inspect the gutters when we should be admiring the stars, we look at problems rather than lookig for grace.

An optimistic landowner had planted saplings on the hillside. Around each he had fastened a plastic tube that the little plants might grow in spite of the gales and snows. Some were outgrowing their tubes, others seemed to die within. Some believers, though provided with the means of grace, live, but don’t grow. Forever drinking baby milk, they never move onto the riches of the word. May I never be such.

I briefly observed a wren on a dry stone wall. Though the day was fading and it is the smallest of our birds, it chattered and rattled as its species are wont to do. Alone and camouflaged among the dark moorlands, its loud call compensated for its poor showing. It is time for the church of God to make some noise. For too long we have lain silent, meekly observing the nation’s demise on account of our own humble appearance and low numbers.

Finally, on the horizon, one could detect the bright glow of sunlight despite the grey, monochrome skies. The sun shines just as brightly when the black clouds appear though we may not see it; God’s grace and smiling countenance are real even when life’s problems come between us and Him. Though trials be great and burdens wearisome, so the occasional ray of heaven’s peace does God appoint to break through, cheering us briefly, assuring us of the real and certain hope we have.

After tea, I read some Isaac Watts, prayed, showered, and slept a good night's sleep.

‘Surely the Lord our God has shown us His glory and His greatness, and we have heard His voice from the midst of the fire. We have seen this day that God speaks with man; yet he still lives." Deut 5:24