Today, Lynette speaks to us about Sabbath, ministering to those who are under the pressure of ministry, how God encountered her in her anger (and through a miracle), and her job on the radio.
Tell us a bit about how you grew up and your childhood: I was born in the north of England; the oldest of two. My father was a pastor, and later my parents became missionaries, so I moved around a lot. I have lived all over the UK, in the United States (I went to college there) and South East Asia; I am a “Third Culture Kid” – someone who grew up in multiple cultures/subcultures, and thus, essentially creates a unique, third culture of their own. So, sometimes, people have trouble placing my accent, and I can never easily answer the question, “Where are you from?”
I was also home-schooled until I was 16, which I loved, and which gave me time to feed my passion for stories and writing. I always had my nose in a book or a pen in my hand, and I was 8 years old when I first had something published.
Inspiring biblical passage of the moment: “But I am like an olive tree, flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever.” Psalm 52:8
Spiritual growth focus at the moment: Expectation. Recently, I was struck by Psalm 5:3: “Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.” I sat with that text for a while, thinking, “When I pray, am I talking to God, or to myself? And if I’m talking to God, what does that mean? He’s really listening and He’s really answering, but often, I go through my days as if I don’t expect much feedback from Him at all.” So currently, I am trying to practice expectation – listening for God and looking for His input and gifts and direction and answers.
Profession: Radio producer and presenter – I host the Breakfast Show on Adventist Radio London – and freelance writer. (Although I actually trained as an English teacher! That’s another story…) I love what I do. The work is intense but endlessly interesting, and I get to speak to some truly inspiring people who share their stories about God and what they are doing to make a difference in the world.
If you wrote a memoir, what would the title be? “This Wasn’t the Plan.”
When did you first encounter God and how did you encounter Him? I grew up in a Christian home, but I first encountered God in a more real way when I was angry with Him. I was about 15 years old, and my parents had just announced to my younger brother and I that they felt God was calling them to be missionaries. I was quietly furious; I felt like God was ruining my plans for my future, and besides, nothing could come of my parents supposed “calling” anyway. My mother had been sick for the past two years with what doctors thought was ME or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. She couldn’t stand, couldn’t walk, she was extremely tired, and sometimes she couldn’t speak or see properly. She had been in a wheelchair and too ill for us to move to my father’s new pastoral district, so the more I thought about it, the more I thought there was no way that we would be moving abroad.
However, my parents decided to make my mother’s health the confirming test of their calling. They told God that if she was healed, they would know for certain that He was asking them to become missionaries.
So that summer, they invited several other pastors to come and anoint my mum and pray for her, following the Bible’s instructions in James 5. And she was instantly healed. She could stand; she could walk; she wasn’t tired anymore. In fact, when she strode down the street the next day, the shocked neighbours came out of their houses to ask what had happened, because they were so used to seeing my brother and I pushing her in a wheelchair!
From that day to this, she has never suffered with CFS/ME again. When I saw this miracle, I grudgingly realised that I couldn’t argue with God. That moment of personal surrender to His calling led to bigger adventures than I could have planned for myself, as well as a more personal relationship with Him.
“I grew up in a Christian home, but I first encountered God in a more real way when I was angry with Him.”
How has your relationship with Him changed you? I would say God is stretching my heart. I’ve always joked that I’m a “brain” kind of person – very cerebral, thoughtful, in my own head a lot. But God is softening me, enlarging my emotional capacity and my compassion.
What has helped you grow spiritually in this season? I am a words person, so I read and listen to podcasts a lot and write out my reflections. Reading: Psalms and The Healing Path by Dr Dan Allender. Listening: Pastor Ty Gibson’s Reimagining God sermon series and Pastor Tim Keller’s Gospel in Life podcast.
Just read/currently reading (and what has it taught you?): I have a huge currently reading pile, but there are two books that I’m more consistently coming back to at the moment:
Sensible Shoes by Sharon Garlough Brown. It’s the story of four women who embark on a spiritual journey and how encountering God changes their lives. There’s so much beauty and wisdom packaged in a compelling narrative that deeply moved me.
It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way by Lysa Terkeurst. After I went through a breakup when I was expecting a proposal, my world tipped upside down. “It’s not supposed to be this way” was my heart’s constant cry, so when I saw the title, I knew I had to read this book. It is a raw spiritual memoir full of comfort and courage for getting through the hardest disappointments of life.
Top three essentials: A cup of tea, my journal, and flowers in the garden or around the house (I love flowers so much!).
How did God speak to you recently? This has been a challenging season. I have felt overwhelmed, disappointed, and forgotten. I have felt like good things were happening for other people, but not for me, and one day I got a piece of news that made me exclaim, “Really, God? Really?”
I felt so overlooked by God. But in that moment, these words of God suddenly leapt into my mind: “Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you! See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands.” (Isaiah 49:15-16) I got a little teary at that. I didn’t feel the truth of those words in the moment, but it was the reminder I needed.
Hobby: Now that reading and writing have moved from simply being pleasures to a big part of my profession, I’ve been looking for hobbies that are different. I love getting out into the countryside and exploring new places. I’ve started building miniature houses; I’m working on an Edwardian florist shop at the moment. I also love theatre, and because I live near London, I try and visit the West End as often as I can.
Top three practical tips for staying spiritually strong:
- Keep communicating with God. We’re invited to pour out our hearts to Him (Psalm 62:8), and so even if we’re angry or disappointed with God, we get to have that conversation with Him. And keep listening for what He wants to say too.
- Quiet space. Life is enormously busy, but carving out quiet time for God and reflection is grounding and refreshing. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a long period in the morning, if, like me, you’re not a natural morning person and you have an early start at work. For example, I spend a few minutes praying before I go on air every morning, and then in the afternoon after work I reserve more time for meeting with God.
- I don’t know what I would do without friends and spiritual mentors who encourage me, comfort me, challenge me, and remind me of truths I forget.
Favorite person in scripture? I’ve always been drawn to Sarah. She knew what it’s like to be repeatedly uprooted and moved around as Abraham listened to the call of God, similarly to my experience as a pastor’s kid. She struggled with trusting God and trying to be in control of her story, just as I have. And although at first it always seemed like God spoke only to the people around her, He speaks to her at last too, and gives her good gifts in the end.
What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you? I want people to see a God who weaves better stories for us than we could plan or imagine for ourselves.
A goal you have? Someday, I would love to write a book or create a podcast for those who grew up as pastor’s/missionary/third culture kids, especially those who have become jaded with the church or are wrestling with the downsides of such an upbringing. Being part of a ministry family has unique pros and cons, and I don’t think the pain and pressure gets talked about very much. I know many people who struggle and have distorted views of God as a result. If we talk about it, maybe we can find a better way forward.
“Being part of a ministry family has unique pros and cons, and I don’t think the pain and pressure gets talked about very much. I know many people who struggle and have distorted views of God as a result. If we talk about it, maybe we can find a better way forward.”
A special tradition you and your family keep: My family and I celebrate a weekly Sabbath. It’s a day for rest and spiritual refreshment, and it is such a gift, especially in the busiest seasons of our lives. Business as usual ceases from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset, and we use the down time to relax and reconnect with God, people, and nature. One of my colleagues at the radio station put it this way, which I love: “Sabbath is a day for pampering my soul.”
“One of my colleagues at the radio station put it this way, which I love: ‘Sabbath is a day for pampering my soul.'”
Question you will ask when you get to heaven? “Why didn’t You step in sooner? Where were You when…? How did this disappointment really turn out for my good?”
What does your morning routine look like? Hit snooze as many times as possible; listen to the Bible, as I get dressed; and have a big cup of tea as soon as I get to the studio.
What is on your nightstand? Two journals – my regular one and a gratitude one; my Bible; and too many pens that don’t work anymore.
Define Christianity in a sentence: Encountering the immense, unfathomable, personal love of God and watching as that changes your whole life.
For more Lynette:
Her blog: lynetteallcock.com
Note from Lynette: I am the Breakfast Show host on Adventist Radio London. You can listen online at adventistradio.london from anywhere in the world or on digital radio if you live around London. You can also listen to the “Plot Twist” podcast at the same site, where I share interviews with everyone from singers and writers to “ordinary” people who have experienced God in some way. @adventistradiolondon
Until next time, keep witnessing!