It’s been a week since being in the sunshine state, Florida, doing life with my crazy community. If I could go back in time at this precise moment, we were on our way to the airport. (when I say we I mean Melissa and Helene) I quietly sat in the back seat of the van anticipating the changes ahead and the songs of Audrey Assuad and Sleeping at Last play on repeat to minister to my soul. It’s funny when I recall the journey. Transitioning back to the UK seemed to be a dream even though we were minutes away from Miami International Airport. There was so much preparation during the previous weeks and a lot of gut wrenching goodbyes. There were emails back and forth between a little village pastor in England and a rather large city in Florida and yet it still didn’t feel real.
Maybe it was after I checked in my luggage, maybe it was after I ate what we called “the last supper” at the Chili’s in the airport and celebrated the ways in which we saw God work, remain faithful and
constant in the entire process. I am convinced it was the journal that Melissa made me that she, the girls, and other people who I very much love wrote in and sent me off with. As I think back now tears fill my eyes. When I walked through security and saw my family with tears in their eyes too, I felt my heart sink.
This feeling is so familiar with all the transitions back and forth. I know it well and you would think that it would get easier. But the truth is this: it doesn’t. It’s hard when you give your heart away, when you put roots down deep in a community and in relationships and then you have to go.
Don’t misunderstand me please; I am excited about this leg of the journey. I know that God has lot in store. It has been such a blessing to see so many wonderful people on this side of the pond. What a privilege it will be do life and serve with the body of Bloxham Baptist. After a meeting this morning, there is anticipation and great expectation of what God will do in these next coming weeks and months specifically. It’s an exciting time but also a time of reflection, gratitude homesickness is somewhere in there too.
As hard as it was to leave, I know I am exactly where God wants me and this is a truth that I am resting in. I went for a walk with some of my new church family yesterday through the English countryside. It was a
lovely time getting to meet new people and spend time with others that I got to know on my previous visit. During this walk, Mike my pastor had a really profound thought as we were sharing together. It was this idea of welcoming and encouraging people to be in a constant state of surrender. I understand it as process of laying downs one’s life, desire, comfort, plans, agendas in order to take on the character of Christ. An approach that should be resisted less and embraced more.
The previous night I could feel parts of me break. In the silence and in the dark all I could do is cry out to Him, cry out to God who is desperate to draw near to me. He brought me to a song where lyrically He met me:
“You could plant me like a tree beside a river, You could tangle me in soil and let my roots run wild, And I would blossom like a flower in the desert But for now just let me cry.You could raise me like a banner in a battle. Put victory like a fire behind my shining eyes I would drift like falling snow over the embers. But for now just let me lie.
Bind up these broken bones, Mercy bend and breathe me back to life, But not before You show me how to die
Set me like a star before the morning. Like a song that steals the darkness from a world asleep. And I’ll illuminate the path You’ve laid before me But for now just let me be.Let me go like a leaf upon the water. Let me brave the wild currents flowing to the sea. And I will disappear into a deeper beauty. But for now just stay with me. God for now just stay with me.”
In the morning God brought me to this verse:
Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal. If any of you wants to serve me, then follow me. Then you’ll be where I am, ready to serve at a moment’s notice. The Father will honor and reward anyone who serves me. John 12:23-26 message
The text came alive with this beautiful scenery.
As difficult as it can be at times, and as exciting as it can be……I am enjoying the closeness between me and my maker.