We are Ian and Sally and we have been married for 36 years and have four grown up children (and three grandchildren at the last time of counting). We live in Loughton on the edge of Epping Forest and, apart from one year spent in Houston, Texas in the mid 1980’s, we have never lived more than three miles from where we were brought up.
Several years ago we spent a weekend with a group of friends we had known for the past 40 years, all of whom had gone through similar stages of getting married, bringing up families, serving in church, taking on leadership roles etc. and who were inevitably starting to think about what came next. One thing we all agreed on, retirement was not the end of our ‘ministry’, but instead provided a opportunity to transition into a new phase of ministry, a further chance to make a difference in whatever way God chose to use us.
The question was how to find that new direction, how to ensure we were operating out of ‘calling’ and not simply doing things out of obligation to people and structures.
For us the answer came through overhearing a conversation between two young people returning from a youth leadership weekend away. ‘In one of my gap years I did ….’ said one girl to her friend. ‘What do you mean ONE of your gap years – how many have you had?’ ‘Two’ she replied (she was 23 at the time). ‘I have never had any gap years’ I replied – well we didn’t do things like that in my day – we largely went directly from full time education to full time working. However at that moment the idea of a ‘grown-up gap year’ was born.
The concept is simple – give up the day job and step away from the leadership positions and the roles we have adopted which too easily define us and dictate what we are expected to do, and instead take time to let God speak to us about what He says we should be doing. More particularly, take time to discover what God wants to tell us about himself, and what He wants to tell us about ourselves.
In order to make that break we are going travelling for 14 months – firstly to spend the winter in New Zealand and on our return to take to the canals and rivers of England and Wales in our narrow boat, Hope. This series of blogs is designed to log that adventure and to share it with friends who are interested.
Ian & Sally – September 2017