The past few months have been challenging for our family.
At the beginning of June, we moved out of our home with only a week’s notice. Our landlords were suddenly dealing with life-threatening sickness and a dodgy buyer for their home, and so needed our place back in a hurry. They were so grateful that we were so accommodating, that they bent over backwards to help us, paying for removal services and up to two months worth of storage for pretty much our entire house-worth of stuff. This took a weight off our shoulders, because finding accommodation for a young family of five in a week is one thing, but taking our furniture with us was not an option.
We had offers to stay from two sets of friends, and moved in with just suitcases, highchairs, a changing station and a few toys and dvds. They had generously said that we could stay for up to a month whilst we found somewhere, so despite nothing on the horizon, we were incredibly grateful for the provision.
This all came during a season where things have not been very easy for P at work, causing a lot of pain and stress for him, and subsequently for us as a whole family.
We have been waiting for a particular breakthrough, which has not yet come, and so tensions have at times run high, and spells of depression have attempted to drag us down. Throughout this whole process – from knowing that it was possible we would need to move out, waiting for breakthrough, to hearing for certain that we only had a week- we have been praying and waiting on God for some kind of answer.
Admittedly, this was often a case of waiting on God to give us the specific answer we wanted, but we also fervently wanted whatever it was that He has planned for us, and for it to come to pass at the right time and in the right way.
It has been a test of trust and obedience, that neither of us have found easy.
But Jesus didn’t promise that when we chose to follow him, we would have all our circumstances lined up and easy. Rather he promises that he will be with us at every step, never leaving or forsaking us. This is a pretty massive and hope-inducing promise.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
God wasn’t really telling us what we wanted to hear, but neither did he seem to be telling us anything. We were listening, but He seemed to be choosing to remain silent.
The night I heard that we had a week to move out, I felt pretty upset and in went into ’emergency planning mode’.
The next day, I was immensely hormonal and drained, and just kept seeing how big and seemingly insurmountable the task would be. Needless to say, that was not a very peace-filled happy day. Quite the opposite.
But that evening when I went for my walk and prayer time, I ranted at God, and poured out my heart- my fears and frustrations with everything – the lack of change and breakthrough, and how I needed to know what was coming next.
I felt God impress upon my spirit that no, I did not need to know, but I simply wanted to, but that HE knew what was coming and how things would play out, and that I needed to let go and trust Him.
He also drew my mind to the Israelites at the time of the Exodus, reminding me that they had to have a season in the desert in order to get to the promised land. Whilst God had taken them out of slavery in Egypt, he also had to take Egypt and it’s disfunctional ways and attitudes out of their hearts before they would be ready to take their land, stepping into all that He would give them.
All this resonated with me and I felt so encouraged and graced with trust, that during the whole process of moving out of our beautiful cottage on the Friday and into our friends’, I was full of joy and peace, and immense grattitude at God’s faithfulness and provision.
As is so often the way with God, that once you step out in trust and obedience, THAT is when He brings the provision you need, so the very next day after we moved out, we had a phone call from a close friend telling us that his in-laws were on a canal trip for most of the summer, and that we were invited to house sit, free of charge, from a week Monday until the middle of August.
This turned out to be a BEAUTIFUL family home, with lots of space, a beautiful flow to the downstairs, and a gorgeous big garden with a climbing frame, swings and a slide. It was in the same town we had lately moved out of and which we loved, and because the couple have grandchildren, there were child-locked cupboards, toys and even kid-friendly toilet seats. HOW GENEROUS IS GOD!
We moved in and have had an amazing time there.
With all the challenges brought by what was going on for P, it has been a place of sanctuary and peace.
But just when we started to get comfortable, feeling secure in our surroundings, God threw us another curve ball.
This couple had needed to change their plans, and were now going to return home nearly three weeks sooner than we had initially thought.
Which is totally fine, it is their house, and they had been more than generous to us.
But I was a little cross with God about it.
I am not a huge fan of uncertainty and change (I suspect not many of us are), and would have liked something more secure.
However what God has been showing us, time and again, is that HE is our provider, not our friends or our circumstances, not P or even his wage, and that God is the one who will provide for us and who will mobilise his people. We will not go homeless.
So we moved out on Monday this week, and have had a house sitting holiday, at a friends’ home by the sea, which so far has been lovely.
On Saturday evening we move into our other close friends’ house back ‘home’, part house-sitting, part sharing with them, their two children and dog, for the month of August.
They are also being incredibly generous and accommodating of us and our needs. They have counted the cost and inconvenience of having us, but have decided to go ahead and look after us anyway. This should hopefully be a lot of fun, as we and our kids are all good friends, but it will also pose the natural challenges of merging two households and two (sometimes different) ways of living.
After that, only God knows, and he is not currently sharing.
We are on the council housing list and will have to wait out that process, because despite P’s reasonable wage, we simply cannot afford to live anywhere in the area at market prices. Even looking at small places without an adequate number of rooms, we are still priced out. The area where P works is wealthy and affluent on the whole, so prices for living are sky high, and as I am a full time mum of three aged four and under, (no fee paid for this!) we only have the one wage to live on.
- God has never let us down yet. So he isn’t about to now.
- God also never answers a prayer less well than any he has answered previously, so He is hardly likely to do a less good job of supplying our needs.
And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19
We have been saying that we are a #FamilyOnTour. Sometimes this helps.
My discovery during this season, and really the whole conclusion and point of this blog, is that trusting is hard when you don’t know what is coming next, but that if we did know what was coming – it wouldn’t require trust.
But we do know Who we are trusting in.
For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.
Our God is faithful, kind, loving and generous. His timing is perfect.
If he doesn’t share His plans with us at the point that we ask, it is because He knows we couldn’t handle it and/or wants us to see His goodness as he comes through for us -BEAUTIFULLY – yet again.
We have been learning to find our hope and our home in Him, not in our circumstances, and there is JOY to be had in the process, regardless of how tough things get.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
And the biggest joy of all is knowing His PRESENCE – HE is close to us at all times if we would just learn to look, and lean into it.
I have been switching on my teaching podcasts and worship music more often, learning to steal moments of praise in my kitchen or bedroom, with or without the kids around my ankles. I have even begun to do this more quickly in response to a horrible and depressed day (though admittedly I still have growth to do in this area), rather than wallow in my sadness. And when I have, His Holy Spirit has lifted my head and my heart, swapped my misery for joy, and changed my perspective.
Likewise, we have been lifted up in prayer from so many different directions, that I have discovered a far deeper understanding of what it means to be part of the body of Christ and to be connected to a praying community. This too, has MASSIVELY helped and encouraged us during this season.
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
So I say, despite my uncertainty and trepidation about the future, despite the confusion and unrest this upheaval has caused our children, I will lean in to this process and I look forward to what God brings next. Praying that I finish well.
Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have laid hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize of God’s heavenly calling in Christ Jesus.