As I sit here by my dad's bedside in a Private Hospital in Adelaide, I finally find time to reflect and write this blog. Something that I have needed to write for a week or so now. I need to explore something I have been saying now for nearly 3 years, and realise that maybe I have been wrong.
'We just need a breakthrough' has become my repeated plea for what seems like an eternity. These last 3 years have seen me struggle with burnout and mental health, the passing of my grandfather, the sudden and tragic passing of Cate's dad and now my dad has been diagnosed with Gastric cancer. This mixed with the normal chaos of rasing a family of 5 boys and trying to work out how to earn a living and follow a calling to ministry, while juggling all of these realites and health struggles has led me to this plea.
'We just need a breakthrough!'
But I have come to realise something over the last few days. It is not a breakthrough that we need, but to acknowledge that a breakthrough is already amongst us. Let me try to explain what I mean. I sit here for the first time in a while, acknowledging that God is present and has been present in our story over the last 3 years. He has sustained us, and he has never abandoned us, but I continue to cry out for Him to show up.
The inconvenient truth is that during these 3 years at times we have not acknowledged God's hand during the mess of this part of our Story. God is already here, he is speaking, he is listening and he IS the breakthrough. We are loved and that does not change even though we are not enjoying this part of our story. We are growing, changing and maturing through this part of our story. We are becoming closer as a couple and as a family during this part of our story.
This doesn't mean that I am happy about any of these events or that God is. If i could, I would turn back time imediatelly and bring back our loved and lost family members or have not experienced 2 years of mental struggle. But today I do acknowledge God's presence within these hard, dark and distressing parts of our story. It's easy to tell stories of God's faithfullness when He shows up in a triumphant positive way but how do we explain the presence of Jesus in our story when things are broken or not right?
I don't have the answers right now and this isn't a theological exercise in finding any. It is a statement from a guy that is loved by God, acknowledging that I am thankful for His love, even in our current circumstances.
Today I acknowledge that I am tired and broken.
But I am LOVED. And that changes everything!
Keep it light!
Heaven forbid you might find yourself in a conversation about something meaningful.
We have all found ourselves in the middle of a conversation that we regret having started. You know the ones, they often happen at Christmas with extended family or at a spouses work function. You had tried your hardest keep the conversation on things like the weather and recent vacations and then out of nowhere you are in the middle of a conversation about politics or even worse religion. A heated conversation about immigration or the economy. You frantically try and think how the segue happened and you went from talking about lying on a beach in Thailand to taxation policy.
Because of these experiences you and I have trained ourselves to, 'keep it light'. Keep the conversation going but only a small step ahead of not happening at all. Just passed awkward silence.
The unfortunate biproduct of this is we have stopped having powerful conversations. We are now happy with the mundane. Let's challenge ourselves not to waste anymore time on conversations that don't matter. And at the risk of finding yourself in one of THOSE conversations, let's step out and have real conversations about real things that matter.
We are building a network of people across Australia that are committed to collecting and sharing their Live Story with others. This network will Identify and share how you are seeing God show up in your life, in 'real time'. There is nothing more powerful than a story of God at work as it is happening. We believe stories are being built to be shared, to encourage others to see God at work in their life.
If you are interested in partnering with us by documenting and sharing your Live Story, we would love to hear from you. Our desire is to share these stories on this blog called 'The Story Collective'. Would you consider joining us in seeing, realising and sharing God's Story in your life?
I'm sure you have seen this scene played out in blockbuster movies. It is an emotion filled and exhilarating part of the story, but deep down you know one of the characters will flinch but which one?
Over the last few weeks many people have mentioned to us that they are acutely aware that our financial situation is going to become very tight in the near future. This reality is true as we find ourselves in the interesting place between the old and the new expressions of our ministry.
To process this reality I have asked a number of people in the last week if they thought the ministry and conversation we are starting with 'Live Story' are important within the Church in Australia. If they believe helping people experience their stories 'Live' and seeing how God can become part of that, is needed. If we desire to see new expressions of Church growing in Australia, and helping disciples make new disciples.
Without exception the answer to my question has been a resounding YES! Not only is it important, it is genuinely exciting many people as they pray through what this looks like in their own context.
The second question I have been asking is if they believe this endeavour is financially lucrative. Without exception the answer has been a resounding NO!
The problem is that this second answer does not in any way make the first answer irrelevant. We believe this conversation needs having and this ministry needs birthing and we are willing to do it with full confidence that God is in control. God's desire is to see people's stories restored and transformed as they encounter Jesus. God's desire is to see healthy vibrant mission focused communities being salt and light in their settings. Disciples committed to making disciples, that make disciples. And we want to commit our time and lives to seeing this happen.
We believe an effective theology of mission can only start with an effective and biblical theology of stewardship. We believe God owns everything and is able to provide resources necessary for the mission he desires. This is nothing new for us but a continuation of the faith journey we have been on for 15 years. We are fully reliant on God and the resources that he unlocks and makes available, as this is his work.
So we find ourselves between 2 realities. Firstly our current financial situation and Secondly the beginning of a new ministry that we feel God is calling us into.
This is a flinch moment, a moment where in a spiritual game of chicken we take our eyes off Jesus and don't believe the truth that God is faithful in his provision, that he knows every hair on our head and that each morning he feeds the birds he created.
If this is the truth then we want to live it.
Thank you for sharing in our story with us as it develops 'Live'. My prayer is that this story is an encouragement to you as you build your 'Live Story'.