Quite frankly, I’ve wanted to do anything but move to Newcastle this last couple of weeks. Nothing against Newcastle at all, but a fear of taking the missional risk of pioneering a new work without a cosy denominational backing. I’ve wanted to walk away and keep an easy life, one filled with nice stuff, surplus cash, nice holidays and maybe even a new car sometime soon. Pure fear of falling off the cliff. I’ve felt the humbling embarrassment of a usually self-sufficent bloke appealing to friends to contribute to mission support for our mission venture up north. I’ve convinced myself, in dark moments, that I don’t have what it takes to pursue this sort of vision, inescapable as it is.
Like Jesus pulled up to the pinnacle of the temple by Satan and promised the world, I’ve felt the pull towards security and provision kindly offered by the church, but in a way that makes the real call of God upon my life dangerous, stupid and impossible. I love the church, but I’ve always resented how it spreads its ‘risk averseness’ onto me.
And so, a miniature dark night of the soul comes – something particularly challenging for the best of us, but excruciating when it activates aspects of my vulnerabilities as one who suffers from a mental illness….fear of full-scale regression into depths.
But no. This must not be the story.
The circumstances which led to us taking the ultimate decision to finally take the risk and follow our hearts were significant and strong. The ‘yes’ we responded with was true. We made the decision ‘whatever the cost.’ There should be no turning back. We know for sure, all through our lives thus far, that the God who calls is the one who equips and provides.
Let there be no mistake. My intention is to invest my life in Newcastle’s West End, regardless of how hard it is. I will chose what God is calling us to, believing it will be the best thing for us despite my darkest fears that creep up unawares. I will seek out the signs of the Kingdom in that community and seek to be another of Jesus’ broken, unsatisfactory yet willing messenger to the people and families he wants to redeem there through the witness of our presence there.
I want to follow Jesus towards the heart of human suffering, which is our spiritual front line in the battle to ensure love wins. It’s all I can do. And so, at this stage, with no real security in place, we ‘set our faces towards Newcastle’ and trust in the One who leads.