Thursday, 19 May 2016

New Beginnings

Since my last post in September things have become very different. In fact, my life seems almost unrecognisable to what it was and I'm happy to say, all for the right reasons.

Little did I know that not more than two months after my last entry on here, things would become so hard in my job that I felt I was heading for a serious emotional breakdown and all of my determination to stay in a job which was extremely challenging would be severely fractured. I guess, looking back on things now, it was meant to be that way in order for God to teach me more about relying on Him, but I can honestly say it was flipping hard to do so.

For one thing, the Northern Beaches of Sydney is not the cheapest area to live with a job, let alone without one. So without a steady income it would always be a massive up-hill struggle. And secondly, I had been feeling that my career would take a severe blow to go from project managing to carpentry in a matter of days. Why was this happening and also so close to Christmas? I mean, to me it looked really bleak.

But lastly, it was more about how I was feeling inside. I felt like I had lost direction, focus and drive, all of which I thought were the things still driving this crazy Australian adventure. Without these, how was I going to keep going?

In December I had two jobs, one I thought was my ideal job, working on a refurbishment of a Porsche Centre in Sydney. It seemed like the perfect 'reward' for all my hard efforts but in reality it was a shocking week and a half. If I were to sum it up, I would simply refer to that moment as a blip. Nothing more. The second job was working with a decking company. Again, probably one of the worst weeks ever but I guess it paid a weeks rent.

It was now nearly Christmas and we were out of money - literally had $7 in the bank and savings which would only cover the rent and nothing else. I had had a small interview with a property maintenance company and the guy had promised to employ me, but also agreed with me that to get over the previous month's catastrophic job flop I should not start until the new year. What were we as a family going to do? We had no money for Christmas presents and the kids had been amazing and we desperately wanted to treat them. So my wife and I did the one thing you can do in a situation like this - go shopping.

Armed with our $7 we went to a store to pick up some hooks which my wife wanted to get for some pictures. The only trouble was the picture hooks were $7.50 so it would mean I'd have to transfer money into her account from our rent savings. So, stood on a street corner with a rather desperate expression on my face I logged into our account (which I'd done about two hours before we left for the shops) to transfer the $0.50 required. But something had changed as I stared at the iPhone screen. The balance staring back at me was $4,000 more than it was two hours ago! WHAT? I looked again in case I had made a mistake, but I hadn't. Both our accounts were in credit by more than we'd had in any month at any point in the year when I was on a really good salary. I later found out it was because the tax office needed to make an adjustment based on my low earnings the year before and had finally got around to it!! God had provided BIG TIME.

When we realised what had happened it was the most amazing feeling. We knew in that short moment of time that regardless of circumstance, God would always continue to be our provider. And this time around He hadn't just given us a little, He had heaped blessings on us and we had one of the best Christmases as a family, ever. He is good all the time, right?

After our lovely Christmas I was due to start my job on January 5th. Weirdly though, I just couldn't sleep the night before my first day. My spirit was so uneasy with things and all I kept thinking about was whether I had made the right decision to work for this guy or not. By the end of the first day I knew I hadn't. It was yet another red herring and I couldn't believe it. Not only was the guy's company completely out of money, it had no vision and the guys working for him had no drive. It was bad. The owner also requested that in order for him to be insured I would need to apply for my carpentry licence. This would mean me spending $400 on something I didn't think I needed as I was going to be on salary. But then the big bombshell hit - "I won't be able to employ you for the first six months," he said.

What? So not only did he lie about the job but I would have to spend $400 with money which I was trying to save. But it's funny in a way, though. You see I was just saying about how God provided for us but again I was being tested to see if I had got this in my spirit, but I have to say that I failed. Just like Jesus' disciples when they were asked to feed the second hungry crowd and had forgotten how Jesus had provided for the first crowd, I was doing the same here - I had a disbelieving heart and had taken my eyes off the Provider.

Keen to keep working I went ahead and got my carpentry licence, as required, but the strangest thing happened when I walked out of the Office of Fair Trading with it. I felt to give up my job and trust God that He would come through for me instead of working for a company I now knew was trading illegally. I was going to do this God's way.

It's interesting the things you remember as a Christian, especially when you trust Him and let go. That afternoon, my wife and I experienced a supernatural peace like nothing we'd had for ages. It was so amazing and it will forever be there to remind me what what it feels like to trust God rather than fear circumstance. It's like I felt this complete reassurance that He would do something amazing. And, I'm glad to say, He did.

A week after this moment of letting go, and picking up a bit of casual carpentry work provided for by two amazing families in the church, I received a phone-call out of the blue asking me to attend an interview the next morning in the city for a job working within the facilities (maintenance) department at my local (10 minutes on a bicycle) Westfield mall. The strange thing was that I couldn't remember applying for the role and not only that, I had apparently applied back in November right at the end of my project management job. I curiously accepted and the next morning turned up at Sydney's main Westfield mall and breezed through the interview. It was like I was always meant to have been there. Sure enough the next day I received an email saying I had made it to the second interview at Warringah Mall. Again, the interview was like a dream and I was offered the job. A full-time, salaried position for Westfield. But the story doesn't end here, it gets better.

My wife asked me when I would get paid and I said it was monthly. We knew (or thought we did) that we'd have to find rent for four weeks as I would be paid a week after starting and then not until the following month. It was going to really stretch us but we just knew it would work out. Shortly after receiving confirmation of employment I was asked to go back into the city to sign my paper work. At this point the girl who had handed me the paperwork said, "just for your info, on Friday you will receive your first week's salary as well as three weeks in advance pay, so in effect you'll receive four weeks pay!"

If there was ever a look like that cartoon image of the jaw dropping to the floor, this was it. Not only had I been given a job but God had met our needs in spectacular fashion. But perhaps the funniest part of all of this was that Westfield had to pay me the highest rate of pay for my role because I had a carpentry licence! That means, if I hadn't have worked for the guy at the beginning of the year I probably wouldn't have been able to accept this job due to what the renumeration package would've been without it. Just wow.

Astounded by God's goodness and grace I can honestly say that these last few months have been amazing. There are so many things I could write down that He has done but I'd be here (and so would you be if you continued to read) forever. Sure, we have experienced a few financial mountains due to a smaller pay packet (for now) and have been hit by some big bills but we know that if God can provide the dream job after literally years of wrestling with bad jobs, then He can overcome all our issues for us and all we have to do is rest in Him. And to really hammer this point home, God has also provided for my wife a really great part time job at a secondary school which our son will be attending next year! So we are now both earning :)

Right now I feel like as a family we are finally on the cusp of something huge and we are starting to see fruit from that long time of pruning which I have to say was so very hard. When we didn't understand what God was doing, we tried to trust Him and focus on the fact that He has always known our future before we ever did.

I have heard it said many times before and now I actually believe it myself - if you look back over all the hard times you will always see where God has proved Himself to be a faithful and loving Father who intimately knows our every need.

I really hope this story has blessed and encouraged you as it has me.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Two Years In Australia

Two years today, my family and I boarded a plane in London to head off to Australia. We had no idea of what to expect and knew no-one in Melbourne where we were headed. It was the adventure of all adventures and although we knew God was with us, everything else would prove to be a massive challenge of our own personal faith and resolve.

As I write this, I am sitting in my 3x5m office at work and am reflecting on all God has done for us in these past 24 months. None of it has been plain sailing to say the least but all of it has brought us in a much closer relationship with our Father in heaven. To be totally honest there has been times we have asked ourselves what we are doing and when we have been at our lowest ebb, God has shown us what we have accomplished. It's safe to say that we wouldn't change what has happened because it has installed in us a strength we didn't know we had.

In Melbourne, we didn't know anyone. We arrived with nothing apart from a few suit cases and we had even left without completing the sale of our house. To almost anyone who reads this, this does sound complete lunacy and unwise and to a certain extent it definitely was. But very quickly we were able to rent a house without any references and sure enough, our home in the UK sold and we were able to pay off all of our debts.

As well as finding a house, we found two good schools for our kids and an awesome church. Not long after this I was able to string some work together and we began to connect with amazing people. Yes, we were terribly missing friends and family but knew we were not completely alone.

Six months into our life in Melbourne, I secured a job working for a shop fitting company and although we were grateful for the money it meant I had to work away from home. My wife and kids really found this season so very hard and to be frank I did, too. It was simply horrible. It felt like we were in a very barren time and I hated being away from home. But without that job which we persevered with we would never have been able to move to Sydney, which is what we did just over nine months ago.

Sydney was always going to be our dream city and the place which we had prayed about, perhaps more than any other place I can think of. But when we moved we had to start all over again. We had no home, no schools and needed to connect with the local church. The thing is, this time we knew God would supply because He had done so before. He had shown us this very early on (a week before we moved) by providing a well paid job just outside of the city (or so I thought).

Sure enough, after less than a week in Sydney while staying with friends, we were accepted by a rental agency to move into a wonderful house one road away from the beach in Dee Why. Not only that, but our daughter was accepted into the best school possible for her and our son was enrolled into an incredibly culturally diverse primary school. Everything was fitting into place.

Once settled into our home we began to connect with our local church and became part of a connect group, where we have made good friends. So far, God had done everything He said He would do.

However, when I started my job I realized that living in Sydney was going to be no walk in the park. It was incredibly difficult. I had been given a job based on my previous role in Melbourne but this time I had been promoted way above my own skill set. I was made a project manager on a huge building project and it was an hour and a half drive from our house. I tried to reason with God and ask if there was anything easier but since I started in January (and am still here) all He has kept saying is "Keep going!" That has been so very hard, but I have not given up.

You see, if I had been given this job a year earlier, I simply would have not been able to handle it. But through all the trials I faced in Melbourne, it had built up my spiritual muscles as well as my inner strength to see this as an opportunity to learn more and not as a problem I had to suffer. Together as a family we have become completely different in how we see the world. We now know that everything happens for a reason and sometimes, although extremely painful, we benefit massively by allowing God to lead us though the wilderness.

So what have we learned from two years in Australia? Well the first and most important thing is that God is ALWAYS faithful. No matter what the trial is, He never ever lets go. The second thing is that as a family we have learned that prayer is the ultimate weapon when being faced with huge difficulties. One of the things I can say which I have noticed the most in my children is they have prayed together every single night. They have grown into faithful giants with their child-like faith. It is so inspiring.

Thirdly, and this is more personal, is that I have learned to trust God in ways beyond my comprehension. What I mean is that in my job, particularly, I have trusted God for every single word that comes out of my mouth and He has literally taught me how to chair board meetings, produce performance reports and handle situations I have no former experience in. It has been mind-blowing what I have been able to achieve in such a short time by just trusting Him.

Fourthly, I have seen so many changes take place in my wife's personal faith and reliance on God that she is almost unrecognizable to who she was before we left England. She is so unbelievably strong that I am in awe of her and I know she affects everyone around her with her faithfulness.

So what happens next? Well, I don't actually know the answer to that. All I do know it we simply have to keep trusting God and letting him lead us into the next chapter. Please continue to pray for us as we venture into new territory because although we know God is faithful it certainly does not mean that we have an easy task ahead. We just know He is with us and it's always good to know that others are with us, too.

Thank you for reading this and many blessings to you.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Digging Deeper

As I write this I am currently stuck between a rock and a hard place at work. My job is extremely challenging and I also deal with people that are not nice and who tend to make life even harder. On the upside my boss wants to hire me full time, but on the downside I could be on this particular project for another four months. So I keep asking myself, should I stay or should I go and find an easier path.

I don't know if I am talking to anyone here but being caught up in an unsettling season can feel like the worst thing in the world - especially when you've felt God lead you down a road which is a lot more rocky than what you felt led to believe. It makes you feel like you've been dealt a hard hand and without clear direction it's sometimes even more difficult to see any way out at all.

But something somewhere deep inside is telling me to stick this one out. I feel like I am in a privileged position to really grow and mature, even though this all seems pretty overwhelming. To say it's an interesting paradox would be an understatement but what this last two years in Australia has taught me is that when you dig deeper into God's energy reserves things start to make sense.

And that is really the premise of this blog - someone challenged me to write down some thoughts on suffering for Christ because we had been through hard times but could see God's loving hand in it all. But for some reason, I don't wish to dwell on the sufferings, but rather focus on the blessings. I have, in the past, spiraled down into a world of drudgery and thought about all the negative aspects to my life but very quickly God has shown me how He sees it. I can tell you now, God's view of your life is VERY different!

I have come to understand that God knows how much I can handle. He knows that the deeper I dig in Him the more strength I will find and this is exactly what He wants me to do. He has overshadowed me with such grace in my work place that in spite of very difficult situations I have seen His hand of victory come in and win the day for me in unbelievable ways. I have come to a place at the base of the cross where the enemy cannot taunt me any longer because the cross and what Jesus won for me on there overshadows anything the world wants to throw at me.

I am not naïve to think for one moment that I am not going to have harder times, but I praise God for all the hard times I have journeyed so far because these are qualifying me for even greater measures of trust from on high. In other words, I could never have handled this three years ago, but bit by bit, God has strengthened me to be able to handle more and more to the point where if I see a situation coming my way I am better prepared than I was before.

So what are these situations I am speaking of? Well, firstly, I cannot go into finer details of my work place as I wish to protect my employment and the companies I am representing. However, I can say that I have been pushed into moments of complete panic because there has been a meeting coming up that I have to chair when I have no knowledge of the subject I am addressing! Sometimes I have sat in my office and thought, 'I do not know what I am doing!' This is not a comfortable place to be.

But God has taught me in the last two years to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. He says in His word that He goes before me and is behind me (Psalm 139 v 5) and He has placed His hand upon me. So I have walked into these meetings saying to God; "You know every word I am about to say before I say it, so I trust You that I will say the right things." I take a deep breath and then I speak. I have sailed through meetings using God's supreme wisdom and come out of these in disbelief of what words came out about subjects I have no formal training in. These really are, for me, walking on water moments - impossible.

In my home life, these difficult situations take their shape from decisions we need to make as a family. There have been times when my wife and I have cried together because we haven't a clue what God wants us to be doing in a brand new country with no real agenda. These, to me, are the worst moments because these decisions involve our children and we need to look strong for them, right?

But I can say that even in these times God has come through in ways we didn't expect. A year ago in Melbourne I was working away from home and we were in a constant state of limbo. During those times we kept crying out to God and saying that even though we were facing Mount Everest every day that we trusted Him. When He did come through it was better than we imagined. He moved us to a place where other Australians head for holidays, Sydney's Northern Beaches. It is absolutely stunning and I drive past the beach every day because I still feel like we're dreaming and have to see the ocean just to make sure.

You see, God knew all along that this is where we'd end up and when we said we trusted Him, He said back; "Well done my good and faithful children - have some of this now." If we had all of His blessing in one go, we'd lose the ability to trust. God keeps us strong!

So this is all I really wanted to say. Digging deeper into God through uncertain times brings fruit in unthinkable ways. His heart is always kind, always loving and always faithful. It all depends, though, on how much faith we choose to put in Him. When we put our whole heart into His hands, He is totally overjoyed that we are allowing Him complete control - I can tell you this from my own experiences. Once my trust is placed in Jesus, the rest works out for the glory of His name. So with my job, I shall soldier on and know my future is secure and that my steps have been ordered by the Most High.

Have a blessed week!

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Office Party Faith Test

Just before Easter, my boss had organised a staff BBQ. I was really looking forward to it because it would give me a chance to get to know my work colleagues a bit more, plus having a cheeky beer and burger while looking out across Sydney Harbour was equally appealing.

After an hour or so, we were all in the conference room and one of ladies was chatting to a friend and was talking about the fact she'd had severe pain for six months due to sciatica and was explaining that she'd been to all sorts of physiotherapists and doctors and they couldn't help her. Instantly my heart started beating really fast and God said to me; "Go and pray for her... now!"

It was really funny at the time, I remember saying straight back, "not here, surely!" But my heart raced all the more and so it was a case of being obedient to what I felt was God's voice, or carrying on chatting and leaving it alone. The latter, though, was never an option. When I feel prompted by God to do something like this, I would rather leave with egg on my face than pass up an opportunity to see God do something brilliant. So I chose to approach her and ask if I could pray.

I said; "Sorry to overhear your conversation but I heard you had a lot of pain and I would like to pray for you if that's OK?" Much to my amazement she looked at me straight in the eyes and said "Go for it, I'd do anything to not have this." Praise God! This isn't a usual reaction but anyway, as I sat on the floor to pray for her, the room fell silent and someone even started to video it.

I asked her if her hips were out of alignment and if one leg might be slightly shorter than the other. She didn't know so I asked her to put her legs out straight. Sure enough the right leg was about 10mm shorter than the left and everyone looked and agreed it was shorter. It's funny what goes through your mind in situations like this. I was thinking, 'what am I doing? My boss is in the room and I hope I don't have to look for a new job after this.' But I needn't have worried. Everyone wanted to see what would happen. This was God's moment to do what He loves to do.

So I said a simple prayer out loud; "Father, you love to heal. Make this leg come down to the same as the other. Thank you, Dad." Sure enough, within a couple of seconds both feet were perfectly lined up. I remember the person behind me gasping and saying "WOE!" I giggled a bit to myself and said to her; "Can you see your feet now line up?" She agreed and told me she'd let me know how she goes.

Pretty soon after this, people started to leave the party and I had that sinking feeling that I'd made the whole thing totally awkward and everyone was thinking I was a nutcase. My boss had disappeared into another room to answer emails and I was just standing there not really knowing what to say. So I approached my boss and asked him if everything was OK. His answer was different to what I was expecting: "So I'm thinking of offering you a permanent position with us soon. I'd really like you to keep working with us. Would you like that?" WOW! This completely caught me by surprise. Of course I said yes!

Since that day, I had started to feel more and more sheepish about the whole thing and wondered why God would put me in that situation. It wasn't that I didn't want to be obedient but more due to the fact that I felt like it would make my job more difficult. I am new to this role and realise that I hold a much higher professional obligation than I used to. I kept feeling very overwhelmed with embarrassment and the more I thought about it the worse that feeling got.

But, I'm glad to say, I need not have worried. This week I finally got to ask the lady whom I prayed for how she was. She then stood up and said; "You know, two days after you prayed I woke up in the morning and thought 'oh, the pain has gone', and that was three weeks ago. I have not had any pain since, so thank you for praying for me!"

I was competely gob-smacked! It was the best thing to hear and I could tell from her face that she meant it, too. I think the biggest feeling in my heart was knowing that I had obeyed the voice of God even though it was such a strange moment to start praying for someone, so publically. I'm just glad I did and am totally overjoyed that God healed that lady.

Have a blessed week, everyone.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Whatever You're Thinking, Think BIGGER

Early last year my wife was out shopping in Melbourne and noticed a picture in an opportunity (charity) shop. It was a large red picture with huge bold white writing which read WHATEVER YOU'RE THINKING, THINK BIGGER.

At that particular time we were facing huge battles and it just seemed to say the right thing - it felt like it was from the heart of God to us, that what we were experiencing was not the big picture God really wanted us to see, but He was asking us to raise our gaze and have a greater vision of what He was going to do. That picture is still with us now we are in Sydney and the statement still remains as real as it did back in Melbourne.

You see, in December we moved to an extremely affluent area of Sydney, the Northern Beaches. This is a small peninsular north of the Harbour Bridge and a place where the average house price is now over $1million (AUD). It is an amazing place to live and our local church, Grace City Church, sits right in the heart of our local community in Dee Why. However, because it is such a sought after area, we have really had to trust God for every bit of provision and sometimes we have thought to ourselves 'how are we going to do this?' We have had to believe God for the bigger picture every single week we've needed to pay rent!

But to be honest, this is not the real reason why our picture is so significant. The place we live and work is what it is and we always know that God will provide for our bills and meals because that's just what He does. No, the real aspect to this picture about believing God for bigger things is all to do with how people around us view the church in the Northern Beaches and what people are expecting God to do in such a spiritually dry area.

Where we live people think they have all they need. They have the beach, the gyms, the coffee houses, the parks, the sports and the huge city. The need for church isn't really there becuse there are too many other things to do and so, even for regular attenders of church, the social and sporty distractions take people away from God's house and then it becomes a battle for the church to really make an impact. People in the Northen Beaches are, well, just too busy.

And this is a shame. Not only would it be amazing to see more people added to the local church but this area could also have such a massive spiritual influence over the rest of Sydney because of its high status and appeal. If people knew the church was making an emergance and starting to impact community I am absolutely convinced that things would be very, very different.

So what's my bigger thinking for this area? Well it's this. My God can do anything. He can change the hardest of hearts and cause entire communities to worship Jesus because I've seen him do it all over the world. Take David Yonggi Cho's church in South Korea, for instance. This country is a very hard nation to build something to do with Jesus and yet his church alone has 830,000 attendees! And that's just one I want to mention. So if he can do all of this, my expectations for the Northern Beaches are massive!

I am expecting that one day the church will take priority over social and sporty pursuits; that it will shape and win the next generation for Jesus and will have far reaching conseqences for the rest of Sydney. I am expecting to see people added daily to our church community and healed of all kinds of sicknesses. I am expecting poverty to be wiped out in all areas of the Northern Beaches as generosity from the saints overflows and meets the needs of those who have nothing. I am expecting people from all over the world to be coming to Sydney to be trained in mission and impacting their own communities wherever they are from. And above all, I am expecting all of this to start right from the church I belong to. Why can't it happen?

The thing is this. If everyone had this level of expectancy then all of this would happen, because there would be no doubt in anyone's mind that it couldn't. Faith is all about believing for the unseen - I mean every Christian who has ever given their lives to Jesus are doing so because they believe it to be true and not because they have actually seen Jesus face to face. If this is the case then believing for God to save hundreds and thousands of lives is not that big a deal, especially to the Creator of the Universe.

I believe in Jesus because He has become my friend and my brother and I feel His love through the Holy Spirit every day. I get to talk with Him regularly and I get to partake in all the goodness He has for me, just because He loved me first. So if this is my own conviction and I understand that all who hear this message can receive this same level of love in all its abundance, then I have to believe that God can make this a reality for everyone I talk to about Him. There is no doubt in my mind about this.

So, my challenge to anyone reading this and thinking how they can make any sort of impact in their church is this; come on a Sunday expecting God to break in. Expectation brings hope and hope leads to faith and faith can move mountains. If faith can move mountains then it can certainly move communities forward into God's promises.

The great thing is, is you can begin now. You can start to pray daily for your church leaders. You can intercede on their behalf and ask God to do a new thing in them and also a new thing in you. You can also make a huge impact on your church by getting there on time and attending the prayer meetings before the service. You see if you go to church with no expectancy, how can God operate in the way some others want Him to? This level of expectancy requires everyone to be on the same page and believing God for big things. Because after all, He is a great big God and so when you ask Him for big things, He is absolutely in His element.

To finish, my prayer is this. That as you have been reading this, your faith has started to stir. Even if you don't live in Sydney's Northern Beaches this could so be for your own local community. You have the ability by just praying and asking God for the bigger picture to literally change the cause of HIStory. I am personally believing that God is going to radically shake up and shift my own church into a new dimension that the area it is in has never seen before. I am believing this because I am praying it. Are you?

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

A Big Thank You

Back in February 2010 when I started this blog page, I had no real aspirations for it - only a portal in the cosmos for me to air my thoughts and feelings; that's why I called it Adam James' Super Blog. I had no idea that five years on I would have well over 6000 reads!

So I felt, as this is my 30th post, I should say thank you to everyone who has read this, commented and sent me encouragement along the way. Clearly I couldn't name you all as there are literally hundreds of you who I do not know but I will do my best to at least say that you are all brilliant and the reason I am still writing posts on here is because you are reading them.

I think perhaps by biggest surprise is where the most readers are coming from. I do not know people in Russia or the Ukraine but these two nations are very quickly catching up with the UK, USA and Australia in terms of numbers of hits. To all of you in Russia and Ukraine I wish to send you my warmest thanks and I hope you continue to read. I would also love to hear from you!

I've also been touched to know I have readers in France, Germany, India, Israel, Japan, China, Vietnam, Kenya, Lebanon, South Africa, Canada, South America and Ireland. To all of you I'd like to say I hope you have been encouraged and stirred by these stories.

Sometimes I like to wait for a particular subject to write about and other times circumstances dictate new experiences that I feel like sharing. Above all, writing is perhaps my biggest passion in life and if I can use this to enable people around the world to know that God loves them then that is one of the biggest blessings in my life.

If you are new to this page, I just want to say that you make me feel very humbled in knowing that you have clicked on here to read what I've written. Thank you so much for visiting and please share by blog with whoever you wish. If any of you have things you want me to write about I'd be only to happy to share my thoughts on here, too.

Lastly, may the Lord bless you and keep you and make His face shine upon you. I will be back soon with another post.

Blessings!!

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Discovering God in Brook Situations

For what seems like a long while now, my family and I feel like we've been living through brook situations. These are when life feels like an almighty struggle and the ground seems to be very dry - these times leave you with seemingly unanswered questions and the feeling of helplessness. I would say that over the last 18 months there have been times when I have personally felt very alone and have asked those probing questions like; where is God right now and what the heck am I doing here?

These times are not nice when you are going through them. They seem to throw up all sorts of emotions and they can really wear you down if you lose sight of what God might be doing in you through these times. Sometimes there is nothing you can do and you begin to default to fear because you start to worry that this feeling might never go away. It is a horrible place to be in and I guess the main reason for this blog is to show that God is always in control, even when you think He may be very distant.

Without being too personal I would say that our main brook situation has surrounded our new life in Australia. There has been times when we have cried out to God, asking Him how long we have to do this for. This is mainly due to learning a new culture, missing family and friends, feeling completely alone in making decisions and struggling to keep afloat financially because this is a very expensive place. We have felt empty and lost sometimes and it really has been the biggest challenge in my own personal walk with the Lord.

But the thing is; the deeper you dig into God the more you realise that He is sustaining you and lifting you up. We have looked back over the last year and a half and seen all the things that God has done in us and through us and we have began to understand that He has never left us alone. On the contrary, He has been closer than ever before.

When we were in Melbourne it was probably the hardest time. I couldn't get regular work and when I did finally get work it took me away from my family, sometimes up to two weeks at a time. I know that there are people who are used to this kind of lifestyle and I salute any of you who have to work away from home, but given we were still finding our feet in a new country and not quite understanding everything this was extremely hard. Not only this, our kids were trying to settle in to new schools and my wife and I were not connecting with people in the way we'd hoped.

Our only joy was found in going to church every Sunday. On a weekly basis we were experiencing church on a whole new level and the teaching we received each week always seemed to line up with our situation, whatever it was. I remember looking forward to Sunday's so much that it became my main focus during the worst times.

Looking back on it all now, the picture seems very different. I can actually see that during this time, we grew more in God in terms of solely relying on Him than at any other time I can remember. There were so many blessings, too! I will just recall a few of them.

When we moved, we had no home and had only booked a hotel for our first week. To rent anywhere in Melbourne, you need a history of renting and also references. When you submit your application you are then considered along with a load of other applicants and are picked at random. We applied for our first house and were accepted within ten minutes because the landlord happened to be English and wanted us in his rental. This, we were told, does not happen.

This house was near both of our kids schools and in a great suburb. I then managed to pick up a bit of work with a local guy and we started to attend a large church in the city which we all fell in love with. Not only that but we bought a really great car which we still have now and it has not let us down.

A bit later on I booked a flight to Sydney with the last of our money because there was a company who wanted to employ me. I was let down by this guy and very sadly got on the plane back to Melbourne feeling terrible. On the plane I sat next to two Irish guys who chatted to me and asked me what I did for a job. By the end of the flight they took my number and by the end of that week I have been offered a full time job with a large shop fitting company as a junior supervisor! I was meant to get on that plane!

Then, my job took me away from home. It was horrible. I would be away from Monday to Friday and would only see my family at weekends. I was then moved to a job in Adelaide for night work as a Work Health and Safety person, which I didn't want to do. In Adelaide, the hotel that was booked for me, was right next to an amazing local church where I have made friends for life. Not only that, if I hadn't have done that job, I wouldn't be in the job I am in now which is a Work Health & Safety Project Manager in Sydney. God knew that and I didn't - I just had to trust Him.

When we moved into our second house, we had viewed it, loved it but were not accepted. We trusted God and handed it back to Him. Two weeks later we had a call to ask if we wanted to move in because the new tenants were allergic to a certian type of tree in the garden. This house was massive and at a low rent cost because it was due to be knocked down at a later stage.

Finally, from Melbourne, the conditions to our Visa were removed to allow us to move to Sydney even though we had committed to two years in Victoria. This also does not happen. There are so many other things I could say, now, about this time which proves that God was in control of everything.

Now we live in Sydney - the place God spoke about all those years ago. Our first test, again, was to find a rental. Sydney's Northern Beaches is one of the hardest places to find a rental because it is so sought after. We were told that at any 15 minute open viewing time, you can usually expect 10+ couples/families to turn up. When we found the place we really wanted (first day of trying) we were the ONLY people who turned up and the only applicants. It is a beautiful house and only one road from one of the best beaches in the region - people go there for holidays. Not only that, it is right near our new church.

My daughter's school was another complete miracle. While in Melbourne, long before we considered moving to Sydney, we were contacted by a lady in the New South Wales education department asking if we wanted to apply for a school for our daughter, even if we didn't end up moving. Our daughter is now in that school and it is perfect. We have understood since then that this is an extremely rare occurance and the lady who championed our daughter so much, no longer works in that position because it was only a year placement!!

So are the hard times all over? Not by a long way. We are struggling with the expense of everything and are really missing family and friends more than we have done. We have had to learn new state rules and my job is extremely intense, it is actually a much higher position than I am qualified for and I am daily having to ask God to help me with every single thing I say, because I am being asked to chair meetings about civil engineering which I have no experience in. It is draining and exhausting but I am getting through it.

Not only this, we are having to dig deep into our identity in God because there are so many people around us who are dry and thirsty and we are constantly having to ask ourselves why we are here and what is it all for.

Our only answer to all of this is that God commissioned us to a life in Sydney and despite all of the brook situations we have found ourselves in, we can stand tall and declare that God has been with us every step of the way. There has not been single moment, even in our darkest times, where God has not come through for us. He has shifted things and people into our way so that we can keep tracking along His path. It is only by His grace and help that we are still here and we know that this will never change.

I really felt that this blog was going to really help all of you who are travelling similar paths right now - those paths which are dark and never seem to end. I want to encourage you to stop and look back at the journey you have been on. You will see all the things God has done and when you do you will be left in wonder.

Brook situations are really horrible. They can sometimes lead us into fear because we cannot see what's in front. But let me encourage you; God can see and He knows your future. He knows what you need and when you need it. He knows what is in your heart and how to take you to the next level. And best of all, every time you go through a very hard situation but choose to trust God in spite of it all, God says 'WELL DONE MY GOOD AND FAITHFULL CHILD' and He qualifies you so that when you face your next challenge you can do it knowing you have risen above the last one.

I really hope this blog has encouraged you and pray you have an amazing week.