Love The Process

Throughout any trial we’ve endured, Amy and I have always tried to fight for contentment. When things don’t go to plan, when the custard hits the fan (this is almost turning into a song…) we’ve learned that gratitude is the means by which we can find and sustain contentment. Being thankful should be pretty easy, particularly as followers of Jesus, but so often in our struggles our eyes drop, our hearts sink, our emotions take over and lead us to despair.

Following the pain and disappointment of our trip to Paris, we were feeling pretty weak. Amy had spent the week in and out of hospital and we were trying to make sense of what had just happened to us.

At the end of that week, we had a meal with our church leadership team and we knew we needed to talk about Paris. We’d already shared the prophetic word we were given about the Paris postcode (75016), and the date that Eloise had blurted out at bath time (16th June – it’s a Tuesday). Knowing we needed to have the conversation, Amy and I had already spoken about our feelings on our call to Paris and whether anything had changed in light of our trip. Remarkably, we felt a peace about the call, while still reeling from the impact of Amy’s ill health.

I had been an elder at Crawley Community Church for four years and had the privilege of working on staff for the church. As Amy and I led the worship team, ran Alpha and carried the many varied and wonderful responsibilities that church leaders do, there was a lot to work through to release us to go to Paris.

That evening we told the team that we knew God was calling us and we wanted to push forward to head towards Paris for the 16th June. That conversation was one of the most difficult I’ve ever had. The team were concerned at the speed with which this was all happening. Many of them had made similar big moves in their lives, so they lovingly cautioned us and asked us to slow down to give them time to catch up and process it with us. As an internal processor, I sulked like a little boy and my face must have shown as much.

In looking back on that evening, we’ve tried to work out why it was so hard for us to hear ‘slow down’. We have tried to weigh up whether we were being naïve or immature (probably a little), or whether we were just excited at the thought of something new; as someone who enjoys change that was definitely a factor for me. But the reason we felt so torn was because we genuinely sensed an urgency from God and we believe He can accomplish anything. We knew our daughter (age five at the time) had no context for dates other than her birthday, so for her to pull out a day of the week to go with the date felt too much of a coincidence to just write it off.

It was in this that we found our conundrum. Having walked with this eldership team, side-by-side through some really hard and some equally great times over the past four years, this wasn’t just a leadership decision – these are some of our closest friends. We couldn’t work out how we could be sensing something in God that felt so far away from the things that our God-filled friends and leaders were sensing. We struggled to marry up our faith and urgency with their wisdom and experience. But as is so often the way in the Christian life, the tensions are the very place God calls us to live; it’s a ‘both-and’, rather than an ‘either/or’.

It was a good couple of months before our next Paris conversation with the team, by which time a global pandemic had thrown a curve ball into the process. It did give Amy and I some time to process; through confusion, frustration, anger and disappointment, to understanding, reconciliation, unity and laughter. We kept our faith, we moved on more slowly; we kept our urgency and learnt from the wisdom and experience of our friends; we chose honour and respect and received love and support in abundance.

There’s so much more to our story, many more twists and turns – and much more to come, we’re sure. By the time the 16th June came around, we were able to laugh at the fact that it was the day after the Schengen area borders reopened, after being closed due to coronavirus. It was a day we’d set aside to pray and fast and to see what God might do or say. The seeds sown in prayer so often take their time through the seasons before bearing fruit.

With Tuesday 16th June 2020 having been and gone, here we are on our sofa in Crawley writing this to you. We’ve still not been able to shake the urgency, we worked with the team to transition out of leadership and hand over our responsibilities at church by the end of 2020 and at some point soon we really must tell you about some of the things God has opened up for us… next time!