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Do you have a choice or is the choice taken out of your hands?

August is an interesting time because it is a month in which many people are away from work. Parliament is in recess for August and September, judges often have a recess in August, teachers and schools are on holiday and many other people take time off. Whole industries will completely shut down for two or three weeks. Interestingly this appears to happen more in other European countries than here. There is a sense that non-urgent work can be put on hold while people take a well-earned break. Frustratingly, your urgent work can come to a grinding halt as someone elses non-urgent work takes a break. You are left often with one option, if you cannot beat them then join them!

On the other side of the coin, there is the essential work which carries on regardless and seasonal work which often intensifies in August. We think of emergency services, medical support, utility services which have to run every day of the year and require employees to work when perhaps they might want a break. The harvest season means that the farming community works the longest hours.

So, August can be viewed in many ways. It could be your holiday time or it could be your busiest month. We now need to add the element of choice. Many people have no choice as to what August means. If you work in a hospital A+E you cannot shut down and join the holiday makers. If you are a teacher perhaps you fancy time off when it is not the peak holiday season. Or perhaps the people you go on holiday with fix your holiday time for you, parents taking time off in the school holiday.

The element of choice is often an important factor. To be given no choice often brings resentment. To be forced to work or have a holiday in August can each be equally frustrating in both instances. To be able to choose what you want to do in August can be liberating. You can delight in hopefully better and brighter days for your plans or feel smug at work because you are not stuck in a twelve-mile queue on the M5.

As I think of the element of choice, I think of our relationship with God. I do not believe in a God who forces us to a particular decision or position. I see a God who gives people choice. We can choose to work with and for God. Perhaps at this moment in time we are taking a break and God is in the background, on hold. Sadly, people are sometimes hurt by what people say and do in God’s name. People feel excluded and let down by their experience. The pain they feel they attribute to God or perhaps his absence. God, as far as I know, does not take a holiday and is available whenever we turn to him. He longs for us to have another go.

Comments by email welcome