Saturday, 07 July 2012
I can’t remember ever making the decision.
I remember deliberating over it. I remember countless hours talking it through with friends, and praying about it, and thinking over all the ins and outs – but I can’t seem to recall the moment when ‘maybe I should do this crazy thing’ became ‘I’m actually going through with this.’
Somehow I ended up packing everything I owned into the back of my car and leaving the city that had given me the four best years of my life. As much as I longed to stay and hold on tightly to that life, God had gently whispered of church plants and youth work and breathtakingly beautiful views, and it seemed the decision had been made for me.
I found myself living in one of the most deprived areas in the UK. I didn’t have a job; I knew maybe three people living within half an hour’s drive; I couldn’t even pronounce the town name correctly. But it was okay: God had called me there, and I was certain He wouldn’t have done so without having the rest of it all ready to fall into place … right?
A couple of months later, I wasn’t so sure.
It turns out that sometimes when God calls you, He only tells you the first step. Sometimes even five, six, seven months later, you’re unsure of where to place your feet.
I wavered, struggling to know what to do when the God that I thought had planned every step left me directionless. Struggling to find relationship and community in the face of a horrendous housing situation and work which took me to a different school every day. Struggling to reconcile my middle-class faith of big churches and smart houses and wealthy families with a town facing some of the highest rates of drug abuse and suicide and teen pregnancies in Western Europe.
This wasn’t the adventure I had expected.
Instead of feeling excited and like some intrepid explorer, I just felt hopelessly out of my depth.
I longed for some stability. I longed for something that was rooted in my old life, something that would give me the happiness I’d had there.
But Jesus never promised us happiness. And when everything else in my life felt unsteady, I had a God who’s been in the business of changing lives since the very start of creation.
Most days, I still feel like I don’t know what I’m doing here.
I have to give up on trying to pull the answers into shape myself, and instead just trust. Even when the wandering leaves my heart aching and my soul weary, God is as faithful as He has ever been. He still provides. He still loves with the outrageous love that can transform lives and answer our deepest cries.
His love steadies me, and reminds me that I don’t need to know how to do any of this.
I don’t know how to help the thirteen year old who just got kicked out of school for dealing drugs, but God’s love is sufficient for him.
I don’t know how to comfort the woman whose son introduced her to church and then committed suicide, but God’s love is sufficient for her.
I don’t know what to say to the friends of three schoolboys who all died, separately, within one week, but God’s love is sufficient for every one of them.
I didn’t know if I’d get a job or find anywhere suitable to live or ever have anyone to hang out with on a Friday night when I just want to laugh until I cry over some stupid film – but God’s love was, is, always will be sufficient for me. And that keeps me steady on this path.