The last seven weeks I have changed down a gear in my faith. It was the right thing to do and I'm glad I did, even though it sounds bad. Actually it's not. When you're facing a steep hill, you change down a gear to gain more traction. You have to go slow.
Here's what had happened. Out of the blue seven weeks ago, my landlord informed me he was repossessing our property because (he reasoned) I "wasn't happy with it." In reality, it was because I pointed out numerous repairs which needed addressing urgently and had been neglected by previous tenants.
The children and I had only been living here five and a half months. Just 22 weeks! After so much terrible change, OH NO. We had just settled in. We had just figured out the bus routes and the supermarkets and the dog walks for goodness sake! We had just begun to get to know and love our neighbours! My daughter had started babysitting, my son was building his tree house...
I sat in shock at the kitchen table. My first response was not, "Holy crap! What are they doing??" It was more, "OK Lord, really? Are you kidding?? We've only just moved in!" I wandered around in shock, throwing out the odd expletive and texting close friends to ask for prayer.
The first thing I did in response to the horrible letter was to ask the Letting Agency if they could explain what had happened. They couldn't. So I decided to contact the landlord myself and list the repairs needed in accordance with our signed tenancy agreement. I sent it off and then I waited.
And I waited.
And I waited.
If you read my blog, 'When is Now', you'll know that I decided to live in the present. But what of our future?
When I asked the Lord what was going on, He gave me a picture. It was of Him as Aslan, a huge lion lying in our garden, supremely peaceful, looking out over the neighbourhood. In the picture I could see myself kneeling beside Him with my hands gripping his mane and face buried in His neck. Waiting.
The sense was, "Lord, I'm going to stick with you. I don't know what's going on, but You do. I'm not going to look. I'm going to stay here with You and wait for You to tell me different." Jesus didn't look at all concerned in my picture so, I decided, I won't be either. We're with Him and, so far, we don't seem to be moving anywhere.
Another couple of weeks passed with no response from the landlord, and I got a second picture in prayer. This time it was Aslan again in my back garden - same regal, peace-filled, all-powerful position - but this time I was standing alongside Him with my arms wrapped around His neck. The sense this time was, "This could go either way. Either, the landlord will relent and I will walk around my garden and get on with building our life here or, if Aslan tells us to go I'll throw my leg over His back like Lucy, and we'll be off to pastures new."
Another two weeks passed and I went to our church's prayer room to pray. We have been studying the story of Isaac and the four wells in Genesis 26. As I sat and prayed, I realised I was in the middle of a story similar to Isaac's.
When Isaac dug his first well, he was confronted by others: "This is ours!"
So he went to dig a second well, and he was opposed there too. So he had to move again.
The third time, the Lord gave him room (Reheboth) and he built a third well. However, King Abimelek was threatened because he saw that God was with Isaac. So men from King Abimelek came to Isaac to negotiate peace. When peace was agreed, Isaac was able to build his fourth and final well for that time. He called it Shibah, which means 'oath' or 'completion'.
I sat there pondering how closely this story aligned with my own current situation.
My first "well" was my marriage. My now ex-husband said, "This is not our life, it is my life!" And I had to abandon that well.
My second "well" was my father's house, that I returned to for refuge. But my father did not want me, and opposed me. So I had to leave that well also, and moved the children and myself to our current house. Here, we settled in and began to set down roots and flourish.
But wait! Here comes King Abimelek (our landlord) saying, "You are threatening to us!" Oh no, seriously?? What could the outcome be? Would we now have to move again? Or would the landlord and I make peace and be in agreement that the children and I could stay?
All I could do was watch, and wait.
There was no sense in my Spirit during those six weeks that God was calling us to move. So I decided to stay in what "is". I had no grace or equipping to even consider moving my traumatised children again, and I certainly did not have the finances. Therefore, until He said otherwise? I was committed to living at peace.
It was a tiring six weeks because of the undertow, but it was peaceful. I refused to "borrow from tomorrow". I could have spent endless amounts of crucially needed emotional energy pondering the "what if?"s of moving, but what good could that have done? I didn't yet know if that would happen and, until God stirred me to know differently, I had no grace to cover that eventuality.
So the choice was a) to torture myself with speculation or b) to stay resolutely in the present moment and trust that God's purposes would stand. If we were meant to stay, we'd stay. If God was moving us on, He'd make that clear and provide for us in due time to do it - emotionally, physically and financially.
My encouragement to you is this: don't waste a crisis. This was a crisis, and I decided to use it to change down a gear. Gain more traction. Feel the load and go steadily forward. No fast moves. No nay-saying.
Crises are the moments when you discover what your faith is truly made of -- which is a relief! If I believe in God, what is the point in moments of testing if I relinquish all and try to figure it out in my own mind? That way lies madness... or certainly a boatload of Tequila.
I didn't agitate the Letting Agency while I waited, I didn't keep calling. I waited and I watched. Aslan wasn't moving as I prayed to Him, so I refused to "go there" either.
Last Thursday, I saw a wooden peg on my desk I had picked up in the prayer room that day weeks ago. I'd forgotten to do anything with it, so I decided to prayer walk my property - this house we are in, and love - and to pound it into the ground of our front garden.
Coincidence or Godfidence? That very day, I heard the landlord finally responded and agreed to the repairs. He also retracted the repossession notice.
How grateful was I that I had not spent the previous six weeks fretting over how on earth I could ask my poor children to undertake still one more move...
In this instance, we don't have to move. All is well. We're safe to build where we are. We're here. We've made peace. We can get on and flourish for however long this season is destined to be.
However, in those six lo-o-ong weeks, I was fully aware that God might move us on. BUT, until He actually told me that was fact? Nope, I was not going to go there.
You can trust God to keep you straight in your thinking. Don't waste a crisis. Gear change down. Ask God what He is doing in it, don't concern yourself with a million possibilities. Wait to hear what He says. Dig in, find out, go deeper. Because what He calls us to He will prepare us for.
In light of our news, you know what I'm doing? I am laying new turf.