Sometimes you just never see it coming. In the space of about ten days God turned our world upside down. One moment we’re settled and committed to building God’s Kingdom in the east end of Newcastle and the next we’re going to be heading down to Birmingham to lead a great new team.
Julia and I were initially shell shocked. We had never considered moving but absolutely knew it was the right thing but processing it has taken a few weeks. I’ve laid awake at night and woken early and the same thoughts kept returning – why? I’ve gone over the past few months and years wondering why God is now saying move. I’ll be honest – I’m a finisher. I don’t like to leave work unfinished. We started a massive job and are only partway through. We love this community and city. We’re settled where we are and comfortable with our wonderful team and people.
As I’ve laid in bed thinking, pondering, wondering and wading through the what ifs, maybe’s, key decisions, distractions and inevitable regrets I felt God whisper in my ear, ‘I can’t answer the why in the now’.
That’s so true. All I can see is what I’ve experienced over the past ten years of ministry in Newcastle. It has been a wonderfully challenging but fruitful season. But that’s all I can see and I guess both of us are grieving in a way to be giving up the the precious relationships we’ve formed, leaving our daughter and fiance behind (just prior to their wedding) and this amazing city with it’s quayside, shops, beaches and beautiful countryside. Let me tell you – it has been tough and has taken several weeks for us both to process it. I suspect this may get harder as the day approaches to leave. Don’t get me wrong – we are incredibly excited about moving to Birmingham and meeting our new church family but we’re also a tad anxious too!
I can’t answer the why in the now
That’s what God said to me this morning, as I lay in bed pondering these things, and it’s so true. We have no idea what lies ahead. I’m sure it will be another amazing and fruitful adventure. Funny – I was spending time with God towards the end of last Autumn and I actually found myself praying and giving God permission (as if He needed it!) to take us on a new adventure (be careful what you pray for!)
I’m sure that God has a plan and a purpose and it’s a good one. For ‘He knows the plans that He has for us – plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) I’m absolutely convinced that ministry and life in Birmingham is going to be incredible but I can’t fully see it ‘in the now’ which makes me cling on to the past.
The past is a secure place
There is a certain degree of security in the past and the present that we don’t feel about the future, because we don’t know what the future holds. However whilst I may not know what the future holds I am reassured that I know the one who holds my future.
As I reflected on this, lying in bed this morning, I wondered how many people out there were also wondering what God was doing? How many others are asking why?
Perhaps you’ve recently received bad news – a scary diagnosis from a specialist, the death of a loved one, the loss of a job or career, disappointment at the end of a relationship or a situation not turning out as you expected. Perhaps right now all your plans have been thrown up in the air – you have no idea what tomorrow will bring. I believe God would encourage you today to simply trust Him with all your heart. Throw yourself on Him. These are His words to you today:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.” (Isaiah 55:8)
Make a decision today that you will trust Him because He knows everything about your situation. You may have to accept that you can’t know the why in the now but that God has a plan and He will carry you through whatever you face right now.
You’re in good company!
Joseph must have wondered why he was sold into slavery and why he was in prison. Naomi wondered why me? David probably spent years wondering why he wasn’t yet King of Israel. Jeremiah wondered at times why he had been called as a prophet. Jonah and Naaman definitely had their ‘why’ issues. Esther must have had wondered why she’d been chosen to become the Queen. Paul must have wondered why he was denied by the Holy Spirit from preaching the gospel in Asia Minor. We’re in good company! We are part of the company of men and women wondering ‘why?’
Are you wondering why?
Are you wondering why today? Trust God. It’s easier said than done some days but nevertheless critical. I’m praying right now for anyone who is struggling with the ‘why’ that they will trust God and be strong in the Lord. Place everything in His hands right now and ask Him to fill you with that peace that passes all understanding. Let it completely fill your heart and mind (Phil. 4:7) until you are no longer anxious.
You may never get to know why
There are so many things that surprise us in this life. Why do accidents and disasters happen? Why do people die before their time? Why does life suddenly take a dark and challenging twist? I think we have to accept that on this side of eternity we may never fully understand.
“For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)
Make a choice
I believe it’s important that, when we’re not getting the answers we want, that we let go of whatever situation or issue is troubling us. From personal experience I believe we must settle it in our hearts (and with God and others where necessary) stop looking back, refuse to nurse regrets and move on into all that God has for us. Sometimes we are so obsessed with the past that we can miss out on all the good things that God is longing to pour into our lives today. We can become so distracted that we miss out. Don’t let that be you. Make a choice to trust God and step into everything He has for you. He will not disappoint.
Julia and I are setting out on an exciting new adventure shortly. We’re looking forward to meeting all the amazing people in Birmingham! We may not really get why at this point but we’re happy to trust the one who knows all things. We’re looking to the One who has called us and is faithful! We’re moving forward….
If you’ve enjoyed this post you might like to check out my book entitled ‘Imagine’ that is all about trusting God based on the amazing promise in Proverbs 3:5-6. Imagine is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble and other major book sellers worldwide.
One recent Amazon reviewer said, “This is an incredibly powerful book written as if the author is chatting to you about his own life, struggles and experiences during his ongoing walk with God. It is a very real and honest book with bible verses to back up what the author is sharing about. Personally this book is having a big impact on me and my faith in God. I would recommend to anyone to buy this book if you want to deepen your relationship with God at whatever stage you are in your walk. Imagine the impact this book could have on your life….”
Another reviewer said ‘A wonderful story of faith and dedication overcoming all obstacles. Full of practical advise and wise instruction. The book invites the reader to ‘dream dreams’ and to live out vision with tenacity and determination. A good hearty read.’ (Pastor Paul Hallam)