Some highs and lows copied and pasted from my diary this last year living in London.
On re-learning London prices whilst flat-hunting.
There is the six week deposit, plus one month’s rent up front – which comes to like GBP3,000. That’s all our money right now. Everything. And then we have to furnish the place with more stuff (from desks, tables, sofa-beds, to cutlery, duvet and lamps – essentially the whole lot). It’s looking more than tight – it’s looking impossible. But I suppose that’s the best thing to be able to say! ‘With man it’s impossible, but with God nothing is impossible.’ ‘If you remain in me, and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given to you.’ Basically, I can’t think of a time when I’ve been out on a limb, financially or otherwise, and God has NOT turned up with love and provision. Hallelujah, what faithfulness! I’m reminding myself of that line – that we share God’s bank account. The provision is there already, but we have to make the withdrawal. What does that look like in this specific situation?
On life being hard.
Thinking of friends who have been through it, and a guy I met who God chose to lead a world-wide movement, and who has cried out for healing for family. LIFE IS HARD. It’s turned into a bit of a cliché, but once you admit life is hard then you can begin to live it properly. As in, if you feel an entitlement to an easy ride, then you’re only going to be bitterly disappointed, and grow cynical, angry and sick. Jesus, give me a lightness of joy midst the realities of how life is difficult. Help me see the ‘joy set before me’ – the same joy that helped you endure the cross.
Found a quote I love:
‘At times the journey feels awkward or perilous; you’re asking questions that everyone wishes would go away; you don’t know how to put into words that you’re searching for; you’re wondering just how big an idiot you really are for leaving what felt sure and safe and comfortable – though all this is tempered by the freshness and exhilaration of setting out for new territory.”
(Paul H Ray and Sherry Ruth Anderson ‘The Cultural Creatives’)
Feeling down. I feel like my dreams are dying, like I’m becoming more and more grey and dulled, like I’m misunderstood and yet paranoid about how people see me, fearful of my and Sarah’s financial situation, judged and angry. That’s not the full reality – I know that! But that’s what I’m feeling right now.
On my theology.
I’ve noticed the nuances of my faith have begun to change a lot – in reading theologians like Hauerwas and Vanier, both of whom I really rate, I’m starting to see through so much of the trappings and peripheries of evangelical culture. The language we use, the way we judge people but say things as if it’s a prayer point, the naïve and frankly unbiblical view so many Christians seem to have in relation to immigration, to capitalism, to consumerism and Christendom. I’ve begun to realize more fully that we are not called to be at home on this earth, but resident aliens on the margins of society, empathizing with those who have not been afforded a voice. And yet, I don’t fully live that, and I judge others when they don’t either. Lord, have mercy! Give me an integrity I’ve not known.
On praying for jobs to stay financially afloat, and God answering very differently.
Living in a very expensive shoebox flat was taking its toll financially and therefore emotionally. So Sarah and I began to pray for jobs – we figured if we both got a part time job that would be fine – tight on time, uni work wise, but fine. How generous, and how kind of God to use [friends’] generosity to bless Sarah and me in a way we hadn’t really considered. I then got cold feet, thinking that maybe this was a distraction from us being where we felt God had already provided. So I asked God to confirm it was right, by Tuesday (I prayed on Sunday). On Tuesday, a guy came and looked round our flat (we had no release clause, so could only leave once someone had moved in), and that day said he wanted to move in, and put down a holding deposit the next day. Sorted! So here I am in our new house, writing in the huge kitchen, with an aga, dishwasher, 3 reception rooms, five bedrooms, and lovely garden. FOR FREE! God is so kind.
One of the things I’d been praying for this year in London is that I would see God heal people of cancer. At Christchurch Fulham, just before we arrived, a lady was declared cancer-free. And then a month or so ago, a man came to receive prayer for a malignant cancer on his face. I prayed with an old guy from church whom I didn’t know and who was convinced he was utterly unprophetic(!) The man who had cancer emailed the next week to say he went back to the consultant and they couldn’t find any trace of the cancer they had planned to cut out. They then declared him cancer-free, and wrote a letter (proving as much) to his GP. What a story!
For whatever reason, I’ve been finding myself struggling with anger and control more and more in the last couple of weeks. I’ve become pretty irritable at times. Whilst excuses for such things just keep you bound in negative patterns of behaviour, I do feel my stomach issues have had something to do with my mood swings. Most days at the moment I have bouts of having to run to the loo, and nausea. Going out for the day can make me quite fearful, as on bad days you’re never sure when/if you’re going to need to run to a loo.
God hasn’t given me this sickness. Far from it. But midst feeling pretty ropey a lot of the time, I have an opportunity to smash self-pity, to be braver and more patient and more loving than ever before. And that in itself is walking in the opposite spirit to depression, anger, anxiety, fear. Lord, empower me in this!
I think there might be emotional/spiritual issues beyond the merely biological – I think shame and anger might be manifesting spiritually. Someone who has been through a similar sickness suggested this could be the kindest thing God could do for me – bringing up these issues through this physical condition, so that I don’t simply ignore them but hit them on the head before a more chronic illness comes up later on in life. That’s a wonderful way of looking at it, and a perspective that seems in congruence with my view of who God is and how good he is.
Man, so this is it – time’s almost up here at The Orchard. A busy time this coming week for sure, but maybe more valuable to write about is what God has been doing in this last year, and things we feel welling up in us as we move forward in returning to Cape Town.
– God has continued his kind provision through the generosity of others. Things have been tight, but we have lacked nothing. This HAS to become our default setting – that we just KNOW he provides for his children.
– We have seen the joy that comes from being part of a church that is united and is preaching the absolute truths of the gospel. The result? Healings, community, being loved well, and a desire to be as involved as possible. Like playing in a football team where everyone is slightly better than you – you lift your own game.
– Studying has inspired and frustrated in equal measure. Asking hard questions so often ignored by Christians, yet also seeing how academia can represent a dead-end existence just as much as any other field.
– The importance of family. The beauty of hanging out together rather than scheduling appointments. Doing the best man speech at Dad’s wedding. Sharing life.
– Realising afresh the uniqueness of what we’re involved with in Cape Town, and seeing Sarah come alive last night as she explained all things Fusion to some new London friends.