Two long years and a lot has happened – some good, some bad, mostly very challenging, physically,spiritually, emotionally and psycologically. So why did I not use this blog to talk about that? Good question which I really dont know the answer to at all except that I was probably, no I was certainly trying to proces so much change and disappointment at the same time that I really didnt know where I should begin. In fact my mind must have been a bit like a plate of spaghetti where you have no idea when you put the fork in how much might come out and usually you end up with too much to fit in your mouth. Such was my confusion and angst.
So why now I hear you ask… or if you dont ask I certainly am asking. Why would I want to go back over some of the most challenging and probably difficult 2years in my life? Good question .. and I hope what follows will be some kind of coherent answer, although at the moment I am probably writing this intro to get to a point where I can distill what I would like to share and maybe even why, although no promises there!
Well in the past 2years we have stayed in approximately 12 different houses, in about 8 different places and 2 different countries. Most of these houses have not been our own and we are immensely thankful for those who have shared there space with us. Along with shared space comes a certain restriction on self expression which I understand but struggled to come to terms with most of the time. The feeling of not quite being able to relax even when I was alone.
Okay I have got ahead of myself here. The last couple of years has not only been about change of home and city but more than anything it has concentrated on separation and moving forward in the plan the Lord has laid out for us. Firstly there was the protracted end of the connection with OM in Italy which was painful in many aspects. Leaving behind connections with people, dealing with pain of unfulfilled aspirations, saying ‘Arrivaderci’ to friends and colleagues and most of all, contemplating an unknown future.
In this phase, which lasted a good 9months at least, the pain of separation and sometimes disillusionment was oftentimes overwhelming. The thought of having given these 4 years to the work and developed vital and strong relationships with many around me and now having to leave these behind for I knew not what was quite challenging to deal with, not least as I had seen the Lord bringing them closer to Him even though they were often unaware. So to share with you on this blog was beyond where I found myself at that painful moment.
The process was painful and in many ways took me to my limits emotionally and spiritually. Emotionally I had to confront my own part in allowing my instincts and feelings to remain silent when , in retrospect , I should have acted on these emotions and spoken or took action, and spiritually God allowed me to get to the end of myself and realise that I have no control of much of what happens in my life. In fact He holds all things in His hands and will bring into being the plan He has for my life. The realisation that when I surrendered myself to Him as Master those 28years ago i did in fact sign up to allowing Himto do with me as He wants.
Now this may seem a bit mad to many who are reading this and who have not taken that step. However this is what the Bible teaches me. Often I have misread this and thought that He is here to give me a help to get where He has planned. Not true! I am here give myself up as a living sacrifice every day so that He can show His glory through my life and what He does with it. So what does that look like for me in this place of disillusionment, pain, discomfort, disappointment, confusion. Well, reality is that it was both comforting and scary. Comforting as I saw Him provide absolutely everything I needed to care for myself and my wife in this time. But ‘How?’ I hear you protest! Well there are many examples but here is just one. Arriving in a town we had lived in for 4years but now without a home a d having been provided with 2 different spaces to sleep for the initial 4days (which in itself was miraculous), finding that we now needed to find somewhere else until we could view a variety of apartments. As we walked through the centre of town we met a fellow worker for the Kingdom of God, who was delighted to see us and immediately asked us where we were staying. Hearing that after that day we had nowhere for 3 days at least she immediately offered to house us and indeed feed us. Now you may say that is just coincidence,and from your viewpoint you may be right, however the timing and detail of this had the aroma of the Holy Spirit!
So learning and deepening my trust in the Lord as Master of my life and living up to one of His names, ‘The Lord who provides’ was a major element of this time. Now I am certainly not saying that every day I woke thinking and believing that the Lord was leading me. However as in many lessons in life it takes time for the penny to drop.
Another element in this time of spiritual formation was spent as Rose and I walked alongside a community of believers in the south of Italy. On separating from our OM team and leaving Torre behind our plan was to move to this area and develop ministry in and through sport and so we moved there along with everything we owned in Italy put into storage and began to search for an apartment. As we developed our relationship with the community we began to sense that something was not quite as it appeared. It looked like a thriving active community of believers reaching out through music, social media, social action to the surrounding communities. In reality it was something akin to a cult where people were serving out of obligation and fear rather than a response to the grace that they had received in Christ.
So what do I do in this situation where I have basically put all my eggs in one basket and the basket has holes in it everywhere? So the obvious answer should be to get out of there and find a safe place to reconsider any options I may have, if any. However this is not what happened. The answer which the Lord gave us was quite different and not what we wanted to hear.
I hope this post has challenged you thus far and you will join me for the next part in a few days.
To be continued………………….