So what am I going to be doing next?
This makes quite a story, and if you want to know more about the overt supernatural confirmation following extreme instances of God speaking, then email me (address elsewhere on this blog). I can't promise any quick fix for stressful situations you as hundreds of page viewers might be going through. It's borne out of laying everything down - hopes, dreams, disappointments, successes, fruitfulness - pure letting go. Everything we as a family know is shaking just now....our new(ish) life in this city, our house, our friends, our church and our job titles and roles. For Mr HIWWC might have to leave his job too if we move house/city. Over the next three months we are holding it all so lightly. The following verses from John 12 are in my head constantly:
Jesus replied: Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honour the one who serves me.
I'm thinking about the kinds of things I have been doing in my current church/role which I have SO loved doing; some of it was new for me and lots of it was building on things from the past. I've got lots to take with me, and as I said to my ex-SP last week, I have learned so much from him and from being part of a senior staff team. But I can't look back and hang onto that as a stationary (safe) place in the past. There is always more for those who let go.
But because I am OUT of the situation (for that read: unemployed!!) - I'm thinking about the challenges and solutions to the missional community dilemma (see previous posts). I had several ideas in my head around Chistmas to February but they weren't received for many reasons....that's made me more determined to think about the building blocks that need to be in place for someone else to move it all on or for me to take on to somewhere else. But MORE THAN THAT, we, as a family have turned to prayer. Prayer for those we have left behind, prayer for the leaders who have decisions to make. Prayer for ourselves and especially for our own children.
In the last week I have done some further research that has led me to reflect on the intergenerational family cells I set up in my last church - you can read more in these posts here from 2008 . (labelled intergenerational). Skip past the "Pray Any Way" post to the older posts at the bottom.
We love the Word, the Spirit and the mission that was clearly evident in the church that we have just left. And yet....some stuff moved on and developed that meant I was on the outside looking in. That which I was called to do had changed. It's only now that a number of people (well-meaningly) have said they saw that happening to the area of work that I do. I feel a bit naive that I kind thought it would all work out OK, that the family/kids stuff in our missional communities would just naturally work, when the opposite was being experienced and fed back to me. I was, at that time, powerless to solve the situation I found myself in.
I have to lay it down for the love of the body of people I tried to serve. I tried my best but it was too hard and things were hurting me. I left with blessing on both sides and a continued love for those we have invested hugely in. Parting, as Romeo or Juliet said, is such sweet sorrow. But I pray blessing on the fellowship as we begin to seek out a new safe place to be.
I love the local church so much that I lie awake at night sometimes, dreaming of what is to come. I have even painted what I saw!! And I don't paint. (except for early morning on this one retreat). I know that children, wee ones and teenagers, and their parents (not just kids, not just parents) are part of an amazing harvest that is to come and that once again the church will be listened to in the realm of parenting, fathering especially, and in providing a stable and secure base for the young and their families to grow. And we will be poised to disciple the young who in turn will reach out to the adults who care for them, and vice versa. This will be part of missional discipleship. I found Mike Breen's latest thoughts on this very helpful.
I suppose in my heart I know have a much clearer idea of "my ideal job" in the future but because God has said "rest, read, write and don't plan, be obedient in these 3 months then I will reveal what comes next", I'm having to let that go too. I might never see that dream role. I've GOT to lay it down or the frustration of it will be counter-productive. I may never speak at a conference, preach, train teams, lead kids teams and inspire volunteers ever again. But I feel I need to be in that place for a season, without knowing what comes next. If you pray, please pray for me, I won't necessarily find that easy but I long to be obedient. That is the better place.......
The one thing God did engineer amazingly, is now coming to life out of thoughts and dreams from 2008, 2009 and Feb 2011. To write the book on the kinds of topics I've covered in little posts here and in talks/sermons delivered and training packs I have written.
In summary, I am going to take three months out to read, write and reflect. After that - unknown.
I have a interested publisher and a strong vision of what I want to write which I shan't go into in great detail here - no doubt some of this will come out in the blog posts ahead - but read through the labels on the right hand side of the blog (excluding the "personal" ones - and you'll get some of it there!) but the emphasis will be on how our churches can have a missional focus on kids, teens and their families. More to follow (but the intergenerational posts are a good start).