It's a classic start to a story, the line, "If you'd have told me 10 years ago...", and yet somehow it may be cliche but it's so true. If someone had said to me 5 years ago that I would be doing the things I'm doing now, I'm not sure I'd have believed them and if they'd told me 10, 20, or 30 years ago I think I most definitely would have considered them to be wide of the mark.
So, if I could access time travel, would I go back and tell my younger self to do things differently. Would I tell them not to do certain things because only pain and heartache lay that way, or would I accept that I wouldn't be who I am and where I am if I had not followed those paths? We find ourselves living in South Essex because we've gone through some very painful times. The truth be told, form an outside point of view, the move to Upminster was a disaster and possibly the most painful period of our lives. We will never know whether we would still be serving churches full-time had it not been for that two years. On the other hand we would not have considered buying a house where we have and doing what we are doing had we not been through that particular mill. I may have to live with the pain of feeling a complete failure, and the pain of rejection we both felt, but that may be the price we have to pay to engage with the future we now have.
Perhaps I was never shaped for ministry and church leadership. Perhaps those twenty years were the error and this is what I should always have pursued. Who knows! What I do know is that were I to discover time travel, I think in the end I'd probably leave things pretty much as they are. I wouldn't interfere. It's an appealing thought to be able to go back and rerun the experiment and compare results, but you can't keep dong it until you get the answer you prefer. Life doesn't work like that. Life is not a repeatable experiment, you have to live with the results as they come along, good and bad.
If I changed anything it might be to tell myself not to get on that bike in '74 that resulted in my broken collarbone, or maybe even earlier I'd have suggested not climbing up the outside of the slide in the park, the slide from which I fell onto the concrete below and knocked myself out fracturing my skull (just a little fracture). Maybe I'd tell myself to go to university for a year, meet Anne and then change course and study physiotherapy instead. On the other hand, maybe I'd leave well alone and just hand over a book on nutrition and fitness and say don't ever let yourself get unfit and unhealthy!