3 Years in Woodstock

Today marks the day 3 years ago that we moved to Woodstock.  Convinced of God’s call we arrived with a truck full of stuff, one child, a dog and big dreams.  Since then we have flogged or given away all the baby stuff, adopted a second child and lost the dream.  It would not be an exaggeration to say that the past few years have, at times, been some of the toughest and most challenging years of our life.  We came close at times to walking away… from everything.  There were days we were not even sure we wanted to follow Christ anymore.  But in the midst of the chaos, the mess, the anger and the tears, somehow we found the dream again.  Mostly I think we simply found Christ again and for the first time we realised what it meant to follow him.

Mostly we try to programme, organise and control the mission.  We are more concerned to know what tomorrow will look like while God is more concerned with how we will follow him today.  We have forgotten that to follow Christ is to give up control, to give up our idols of control, security and comfort, to throw open our homes and our lives to the often chaotic, mostly unplanned, always unexpected and most definitely beautiful mission of God.

In three years it feels like we have lost much, but we have gained so much more.  Mostly I look back and I ask myself – what have we done?  And I cannot answer my own question.  But somehow in some unquantifiable way we have found each other, found ourselves, found life and been found by our Saviour all over again.  It has been over two years since we have been a part of a formal Christian community and I miss it deeply.  Yet we are not alone we are surrounded by rich, full, deep relationships with our friends – believers and unbelievers.

We did not leave “church” because we were angry or hurt.  But through some tough circumstances we found ourselves “out” of mainstream church, and as we tried to figure out the way ahead, God pulled us into mission.  He called us into an unorthodox and unlooked-for path, and He has sustained us and loved us.  I miss “normal church” but to be honest I don’t ever want to go back!

In 3 years: we have eaten together a whole lot, we have laughed together and we have cried together. We have walked together with the most surprising people. We have tried to listen to them and they to us. We have heard God’s Word afresh together. Somehow we have shared the gospel with the strangest mix of people.  We have shared stories, life and hope with each other.  Somehow in all of this we are starting to find church again.  Not church as a concept.  Not church as we have imagined it or shaped it but church as Jesus is growing up among this people in this place.  We are finding a deeper, richer and dare I say “more biblical” experience of church, shaped and bound together by mission.

I imagine this post sounds decidedly flaky to most reading it and I confess five years back I probably would have thought so too.  But somehow we are more in love with Jesus, more grounded in the gospel, more determined in mission and more a friend of broken people and sinners than ever before.  Perhaps that is flaky but I suspect we are in good company with our Saviour…

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