Bishop Lee: "Trusting God in every season"

First published 7th May 2020

While out cycling in January, Rt Revd Lee Rayfield, Bishop of Swindon, came off his bike after hitting a patch of black ice. He broke his femur. He needed a five hour operation on his leg and now faces the slow process of recovery.

Bishop Lee, who had been due to start two months of Extended Ministerial Development Leave this month, shares his experience and reflects on how God is speaking to him through the accident:

From the moment my left leg hit the road that Saturday in January, I knew that the coming season was not going to unfold in the ways I had hoped, anticipated and planned for over the preceding year.

This week – on Tuesday 4 February, to be exact – I had been booked on a flight to Durham in North Carolina, America, where I was due to spend the next month as part of my Extended Ministerial Development Leave. Instead, I am lying in bed in the newly adapted convalescence facility that my wife, Liz, and my family have set up for me in Mark House.

Here I can look out on the lovely garden with which we have been blessed, and the abundance of wildlife. As I write, a neighbour’s black and white cat trots past giving me a momentary glance. Fortunately, Alfie, our Ginger Tom, was not here with me, otherwise there would have been a sprint to the back door! I have also been treated to a trio of foxes – two males and one female – all in beautiful condition and clearly thriving in this neck of the woods.

More significantly, in my view is a large decorative table covered with cards and get well notes. These have come from all quarters of the Diocese and contain the most lovely messages of support for Liz and me. It is very humbling to be the recipient of such care and to know that we are in the hearts and prayers of so many that we love and care for.

Looking back over the years I have been a bishop in this Diocese, I have been reflecting on the sense of belonging that I feel wherever I visit across the Diocese, and the sense of love I have for those I am called to share ministry with and among. I recognise how significant it has been, and needs to be, for those entrusted with such a ministry as this. The overflow of messages, written and coming through electronic pathways, affirm this deeply to me.

Last year, and at the outset of this year, I have travelled alongside a number of people in the Diocese facing great challenges in their lives. Doing this has enabled me to keep perspective on life, and to lament as well as to rejoice. I know that some of those I have accompanied on difficult journeys are travelling closely with me and Liz through this unexpected season. Travelling together, with one another and with Jesus, is at the heart of living out our faith.

I want to conclude by returning to that fateful Saturday morning. Two people, one man and one woman, came to my aid as I lay on the road in a good deal of pain, and they were able to support me as we waited for medical aid. When the paramedics arrived, I was given pain relief by way of Entonox. This, as you may know, does make you slightly “high”. As I breathed in the Entonox, I shared with the medics that I was the local Anglican Bishop, and that I had a feeling God would use what was happening to me for good. I did have the sense to preface what I was saying might sound rather weird, and realised, both then and now, that trauma does strange things to people. That said, the conviction has remained.

When I was taken to Accident & Emergency at Great Western Hospital, a Consultant, probably a Radiologist, came across to talk with me about having an x-ray. Time passed, I had the x-ray on my leg, and the Consultant returned.

He did not pull any punches when I asked him what the x-ray showed. “It’s about as bad as I could have imagined,” he said. Then I looked at his name badge and saw that he was called Mr Aslan. I’m sure that the fact that I had earlier had a nerve block, as well as the Entonox, at that stage helped, but the truth is I felt, and continue to feel, in the hands of the one who works all things together for good for those who love him. 

Not everything is good, sought or desirable, but the God we see in Jesus is with us, and for us, all the time. We can trust him in each and every season.

With my continuing appreciation of your love and care for us, and my prayers for you.


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