“The next stop is Birmingham,” I hear over the intercom on train. I’m off to the big city to meet a friend. She’s a foreigner too, from the shores of South Africa. My heart instantly responded to her. The things that unite us go far beyond the surface and our skin. We are united by a past of struggle, anti- depressants, sleeping pills for sleepless nights, and trying to find the concentration to pull together the next paper that’s due and turn it on time. And by His grace we managed. Twelve years exist between us but a kindred spirit connects us. Communication has always been effortless with this sister because pain is our common ground and there is nothing more comforting when someone says, “I know.” and really does know. These trains rides, across the English country never get old. It creates a space for reflection, to be alone with God and my thoughts which seem to take up the empty seats in the carriage today. My heart narrows in on one word. Change. I cannot, for the life of me, leave this word alone. Ever since our missional change module, I cannot shake it off.
Every stop on this route from Banbury to Birmingham represents a different period of life for me. Banbury, Leamington, Birmingham. It’s like I departed from the platform in right now, the present, June 7th, 2013. And I start tracing my history with every stop. And no not the physical events or the people that took part in the story but rather all that God taught me during those times. Inside I am celebrating, inside I am thankful, inside I am praising Him. God didn’t always make life better instantly when it was hard but He most certainly brought me deeper. To himself. And this week I am convicted by the words of that man preaching his sermon, that sometimes we expect better from God and more often than not for things to get better it means going deeper. Taking the plunge into the heart of God, an intimacy that I wish never to recover from.
I think of all the change that life has dealt, or God, in order to get me to this exact moment in time.I see change as two sides of a coin. One on side, change is hard because it always involves loss. Change is uncomfortable and uneasy because things will never be how they once were. It’s a death to the old, to what has gone before. Reconciling yourself and committing to the process takes time. Instant change is short-lived. Indelible change takes time.
Put in in the grave.
The other side of the coin, change creates a space for the new be ushered in. New dreams, new thoughts, creativity, innovation, new perspectives, new opportunity, new life.
Raise it to life. New life.
I have been a student on and off for a long time. I definitely qualify to be a mature student in terms of age. After three different university accreditations and six years, the finish line is in sight. A matter of months. I have to sit down and right my final piece, my dissertation. The girl that had remedial reading comprehension in high school because I couldn’t read and understand what I was reading. As the end approaches, I understand that life is changing. Massively. Perhaps this is the reason for all the reflection during my train ride.
And honestly, my dreaming with God has only taken me up to this point in my life. My dreams with God haven’t taken me past this point. I feel God coming in on me, speaking to me, saying now is the time to sit with me and dream again. But dream bigger, dream wider. He always expands my vision much further than what I can see on my own, and always manages to break my heart for His people around me with a solid snap. Mission isn’t manufactured, it has to be heartfelt and genuine. Not something I do but something that lies within the heart that exists beneath this skin.
So this change, I welcome it in. The past is exactly what it is…the past. The future is exciting. And I’m more than content to rest in the now absorbing all that God is teaching and showing me.
My sister, we finish our day with a cup of tea and a hazelnut latte camped out at table in Starbucks. During our conversation I notice a man with long hair, seems to be matted as though it hadn’t been brushed in a few weeks. I see the despair in eyes. My heart breaks. I can’t leave it alone. I see a book on the table in front of him and I make out the words, “How to Change your life in 7 days.” His eyes are a mirror to his heart and the book is the proof. I must get up, I must go over, I must tell him the most profound truth that someone told me. The piece of information that changed my eternal destiny and my living reality. The message that ushers in the biggest change of all.
It’s a matter of seconds, my feet hit the floor. Richard, the fellow’s name, received me at his table graciously. He allowed me to share of this change, of the God that loves him so much that He would enter in His suffering and into His despair and offer Hope.
I am what I am because of grace and His grace is not without effect.