Exactly eight months ago to the day I am writing this blog post, I revealed a secret I was pondering in my heart. This is what I told you.
It’s a bittersweet time for us. I’ve wanted to tell you about it, but like most stories, the parts keep moving, the plot shifts, the characters expand beyond my ability to communicate about them. Perfectionism keeps me from sharing.
Somewhere in this process, I forgot that you must read the messy middle chapters of my story in order to appreciate the fulfillment in the last.
We are moving to England this summer.
Well, that didn’t exactly turn out the way I anticipated, did it? The messy middle chapters have been long and arduous.
As I begin reading the Gospel of Matthew for the Lent Challenge this week, I am comforted by the story of Mary and Joseph.
Aren’t the best stories those in which we glimpse our true selves reflected in the characters and plot?
“Mary’s pregnancy is Spirit-conceived. God’s Holy Spirit has made her pregnant. She will bring a son to birth, and when she does, you, Joseph, will name him Jesus – ‘God saves’—because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:20-23, MSG
Though married, Joseph waited to consummate his marriage.
He waited for months to celebrate a new beginning, the fulfillment of promise, a marker in the life God had chosen for him.
He waited to tell his closest confidants about the greatest press release since the world was created. Passion burned inside Joseph yet he trusted and surrendered to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Their story kept moving, the plot continually shifting and the characters expanded beyond Joseph’s ability to communicate about them. Yet he did exactly what God’s angel commanded. (Matthew 1:24-25, MSG)
And like Joseph and Mary, H and I are walking out a story crafted by the Holy Spirit, waiting to tell you about the birth of a dream that has been incubating in us over the past eight months. While expectant, a holy hush fell over us regarding public notice of the details after they arrived last week.
An official job offer for H from the diocese of London in the Church of England slid into his inbox, allowing me to finally tell you what we’ll be doing.
H will serve a dual role as Associate Pastor at St. Barnabas Kensington where he will speak, teach and undertake an audit to develop a strategic mission plan for the church. He will also serve as the Church Planting Network Developer for the HTB Network (Holy Trinity Brompton) where he will develop architecture and strategy for the next 5 years, oversee the website and work with members of the network through coaching and training.
All of this comes on the heels of getting a contract for the sale of our house last week, after seven months on the market. We are scheduled to close in late March, a full nine months after that initial announcement I made to you.
To say we are breathing a huge sigh of relief after months of labor is an understatement.
Everything inside of us that leans on the need for certainty, immediate gratification, and public assurance was sacrificed for God’s perfect timing. Because right there, in the midst of God’s faithfulness to Joseph and Mary is Herod’s story warning us.
There are repercussions on controlling outcomes when we allow fear to dictate our decisions. In the end, God wins every battle that threatens to thwart His purposes.
“When word of (the wise men’s) inquiry got to Herod, he was terrified—and not Herod alone, but most of Jerusalem as well. Herod lost no time.” Matthew 2:2-4, MSG
While Herod was attempting to manipulate outcomes like a crazed lunatic, Joseph kept quietly listening.
Want to know God’s purpose for your future? How the pieces of your life fit into the puzzle of humanity?
Follow the example of Joseph.
Protect the conception of your dreams until they are ready for birth. Dreams that seem unconventional are not mistakes to be fixed but quietly protected.
Listen for the still small voice breaking through your dreams for instruction and reassurance. He will confirm them through the words of prophets.
Surrender your plans and interruptions to God’s faithfulness even when that seems irrational.
Disregard the opinions of people who are negative about the dreams God has given you. Sometimes that means He will divert the plots of well-meaning people who are clueless.
Obey what He is telling you without hesitation. The what-ifs keep you from realizing fulfillment of promise.
Remember that God is with you always, especially in the silence of waiting. And the words of John the Baptist will be your mantra (despite the messy middle chapters of your life being . . . . well . . . . messy).
“Change your life. God’s kingdom is here.” Matthew 3:2, MSG
I’ll be publishing stories here once a week inspired by the Gospel readings from Margaret Feinberg’s Lent Challenge. Over 50,000 people are reading the Gospels together during the forty days of Lent. I would love for you to join us.
For conversation and accountability, I’ll check in with those of you who join me on my Redemptions Beauty Book Club page. If you aren’t already a member, just request to be added to the group. Find out more about the Lent Challenge here and download a reading plan or the YouVersion reading guide. I look forward to sharing more about our move to London through the lens of the Gospels over the coming weeks. Stay tuned.
How are the scriptures like a mirror for your current life situation?