Furlough is a word I don’t ever recall using once in 2019. Or 2018, or 2017, and come to think of it, I cant recall using it in conversation. Until a few weeks ago. And now, it seems its used in many conversations I’ve been having, particularly at work.
You’ll remember that the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced the job retention scheme back in March which is designed to preserve job
s. Under the scheme an employer can furlough an employee and receive a grant from the gov
ernment to cover 80% of their wages.
Furlough is derived from a Dutch word meaning “leave of absence”. In English it was originally used to refer to leave of absence from military duty.
On Tuesday, the decision was reached where I work that a number of colleagues needed to be furloughed. I was asked to select two people, but in an effo
rt to be fair, and to make a difficult task, more manageable, I asked for volunteers. Four people put themselves forward, including Dan. So, I mulled it over, looked at workloads, considered how we’d manage, and made my decision. I explained to the two colleagues who were going on furlough what would happen next, and then turned to thank the other two individuals, particularly for their willingness. And then it happened. Dan went berserk. He was angry, no, furious. How could I not have selected him he demanded to know? Why couldn’t he have three weeks off like the others? His voice was raised into shouting and then he spiralled out of control. I explained our conversation was over and suggested he think carefully about what was doing and saying. I’ve had to since issue Dan a warning. What a strange reaction to not being laid aside I thought.
But it made me think about our furlough and how we’re reacting. In a sense you see, as a Church, we are on furlough and we’re resting, as we can’t physically join together. We are being forced to sit back, to reflect, and to rest. And as Spurgeon said, that’s an opportunity for us to gain strength. But I reminded myself too, that as individuals, as members of the body, as servants of the Lord, its anything but a time of furlough for us. We haven’t been given leave of absence from our duty.
In Philippians Chapter 2, we read Pauls instruction of how we should think and act. Take a moment to read verses 1-18. Verse 7 tells us that despite his divinity, whilst on the earth Jesus took the very nature of a servant. The Greek word used for servant is Doulos which means “one who gives himself up to another’s will”. That was Jesus duty, and so it’s mine, and yours too.
Whilst we’re on furlough, and resting, lets strive to take that nature Jesus did and give ourselves up to the Lords will.