Monday, May 18, 2015

God Moved into the Nieghborhood

Every so often the community at "The High Calling" ask me to write for them. Recently they asked me to share about "risk aversion." I am not an inherently risky person. I am not a huge fan of change. I like familiarity, comfort, and predictability. I have a small but intimate group of friends rather than a large network of acquaintances. I shop at the same handful of stores and eat at the same handful of restaurants. I am fiercely loyal to my family, friends, co-workers, and ministry.

But in the midst of this passion for the familiar, I have been challenged lately. Challenged might not even be the best word. I have been stretched in my personal and spiritual life in ways that are affecting my pursuit of the commonplace. 

God has been dealing with my family, my concept of ministry, and my ability to cope with new. As I share in my recent reflection on the High Calling, "Moving into the Neighborhood"  God has challenged and moved my family from one neighborhood to another. 
"Like many in our culture, our family became involved in a church far from our home. Based on God’s incarnate presence, we believe God desires our faith community and our place of residence to be in the same geographical area. As John 1:14 (message) states, "The word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood..." If God moved into the neighborhood for ministry, so should we."
This has forced us to rethink our lives and our ministry presence. As a direct result of this type of thinking we had to make a choice. For we were living with a holy disconnect by living in one place and worshiping in another.
"The way we see it, there are three options to bring a Christ-centered resolution to our problem. We can plant a neighborhood church, but that is unnecessary because there are several churches already in the area. We can join an existing church in our neighborhood, but what about the church family we already have? We could move to the neighborhood where our current church is located, but what of the neighborhood ministry and relationships we developed? Each option is filled with risk and pain."
So after several months of prayer we decided to relocate to a neighborhood closer to the church. It has been a whirlwind of activity for the past two months. We listed and sold our house in a single day. We then bought a house in a neighborhood about a mile from the church. It is not in the neighborhood of the church but it as close as we could get.

While this is all exciting and adventurous it has not been without issue. The new house has not been lived in for about a year and before that had been poorly maintained. We have had to make several new repairs to our new home that include plumbing, retaining wall, gutters, water issues, dishwasher, a new furnace, and a leaking toilet. All after these passed an inspection! This much change, all the repairs, and new everything has pushed me into new places of trust in God. I tend to want to believe this has been a mistake somehow. That we missed or miss heard Gods voice in it all. Why would God allow us to sell our house in 12 hours and buy a house two days later only to have to fix the new place and use what limited financial resources we have? I want to lean into the attitude of frustration and being overwhelmed. I want things to be fixed immediately because I don't like things being out of balance. But my wife (the positive voice in the midst of leaking pipes and muddy retaining walls) keeps reminding me this is exactly where God wants us and he will provide.

And provide he has. We had a small army of people from the church help us move. We had a friend allow us to stay with them for five days in between homes. We have had people share tools and expertise on how to make the repairs. We have a home warranty that is covering large portions of the repairs (you know after a generous service fee). We have already met four of our neighbors who have each offered help with tools and even a truck if we need to haul old debris away. We had dinner with our covenant group in our new home.

We are moving into the neighborhood. Our church, our home, our friends, our shopping, our schools, our neighborhood are all in the same place now. It is not easy. God's call on Abram was not easy. It was not easy when Israel traveled through the wilderness. Even the Son of Man had no place to lay his head. Paul often experienced traveling hardships. I am sure if their stories were told today with first world problems they would include broken cars, leaking toilets, and run arounds with warranties. But this is part of being in the neighborhood. You take on the issues of the neighborhood. My new issues are not unique to my house alone. They are common in our neighborhood. It just makes more able to relate to those around us and forces us to engage them to see how they have faced similar challenges. This way we are in this thing together.

So as we continue this journey pray for us to engage our neighbors and faith community in meaningful ways. Help us to love God and love others as he did, by becoming flesh and blood and moving into the neighborhood.