Pardon the temporary blog silence, but as many of you may know, our move to Newcastle didn’t work out due to us not being able to secure a post for Tracy by the all-important deadline of her having to hand in her resignation at her current school.
Let me just say that this: in many ways, it has been a painful happening, regardless of any last minute doubts or concerns that were floating. So many have offered words of comfort, and we’re appreciative of that.
I just want to pick up one particular thread of thought, however, before we move on. The issue of ‘God’s will.’ I have to say that I’m not one who subscribes to the idea that God has one hard-fixed, solid plan and that every single thing then comes into that regardless of what that is, and where every word and movement is pre-ordained and fixed. No, that is rather fatalistic and also, when taken to its full extreme, assumes that every form of mishap, disease, evil or any other such thing is ‘in God’s plan.’ Let me illustrate: If, for example, I had received the shocking blow that I was dying of cancer (which as far as I know, I’m not), would you send me a message telling me its God’s will? How then can something for which we’ve longed and, in the context of our family life, even been needful of simply be consigned to ‘God’s will’ or ‘God’s timing.’ I’m fully open to the idea that for some reason God may have caused the delay, but the call on my life over many a year and the work he has done in me so far lead me also to include another possibility: that the vision has been temporarily thwarted by things that God had no hand in controlling or determining.
This matter is confounded further by the ‘conflicting prayers’: we’ve learned of people who were praying for our move and people praying that it wouldn’t happen. Who did God answer? Does the fact that its not happening mean that the ‘pray against’ were heard and granted? Did they pray louder or with more voices? Or did they simply pray in accordance with this will of God, in which case was any other sort of prayer ever valid? Do the many who shared our hope and vision list amongst the number who misheard and misunderstood God’s spirit and call?
I’m airing these questions because when it comes to knowing and understanding the ‘will of God’, I believe that, many times, we’re seeing through a very dark glass. I also think is possible that, as I said, God’s guiding of humanity is not as firm as we’d sometimes think and that SO MUCH of what happens here is through him guiding individuals to work with creativity towards his more general plan, than it is through the dictation of individual circumstances. I’m an arminian, of course, so I’d think that!
A wee bit of my heart is a bit broken, I confess, especially for my children as well as Tracy and I, who felt that we needed a bit of extra support in a few things we’re facing which I can’t detail. But alas, we have the same battles to win on different soil, yet with close friends so far away. That leaves us with plenty of vulnerabilities and uncertainties, but in spite of that, don’t doubt that God can redeem every broken thing, whether hearts or plans, and use them for growth and wholeness.
Theology aside, the reality is that we are here in St Albans for at least two years due to Ben’s GCSEs starting this year. In that time we’ll put our ‘hand to the plough’ and work in his Kingdom where we expect we will see God at work and his purposes being carried out in just as many wonderful ways that we will if we had gone to Newcastle or Scotland. God’s will, as I understand it, is this: ‘your kingdom come, your will be done.’ And that, my friends, gives no end of scope for missional endeavour. Trusting that God will grant the grace I need to refocus on where we are alongside the good people here.