Last Saturday we moved to Sydney. The city that God put on our hearts all those years ago (see Launchpad blog) and the place we felt that many words spoken over our lives, prophetically, would come to pass.
I guess with this blog update I just wanted to be real and give a frank review on what life has been like in Melbourne since last September. It has been very tough and has pushed us further than we thought it was humanly possible to be pushed in terms of living out and emotional roller-coaster while holding onto God's promises.
Clearly we knew that moving to Melbourne was a bit of a detour as we always wanted to be in Sydney and although God had spoken to us and we knew we had to be in Melbourne for a season, we still had questions in our hearts as to what exactly God was doing through us there.
Right from the beginning we had let down after let down. People were not phoning us back for work opportunities, things were being promised and not fulfilled and we just couldn't seem to be in that comfortable, settled feeling, that we really craved. Probably the only thing keeping us going was the church we were attending. Each and every week we'd hear astounding teaching and would come away feeling fresh and lifted up. It would only be the tough days in the weeks that would knock us back down again.
It is really hard to explain what moving to a different country and culture is like. It's kind of familiar in that people in Australia speak the same language as us but at the same time we've had to learn how to interpret what people actually mean. Australians in general are very warm and sincere people, and they say amazing things to make you feel wanted and loved. However, we have found that many times people have just not followed through on what they've said which has, many times, left us feeling deflated and let down. We have always try to think that people get busy and then forget, but when we're talking about work applications it becomes much harder to understand why people would simply just not phone back.
As well as this, we have sometimes felt very alone. Understandably we had many friends in the UK and you never think that they are going to be replaced and that it's going to take hard work and commitment to make new friends. But sometimes, when you are going through many testing times; lack of work, lack of money, feeling let down and completely unsettled, etc, you just start to give in and feel extremely low and sad. It's natural for anyone to feel like this.
Looking at the last six months, I'd say it's been even HARDER than the first six months. When I did finally get a full time job with regular money, I then had to work away from home and only see my family at weekends. I just kept asking God, 'Why is this happening? We've laid down our lives for you and this is REALLY hard!!' All God would ever say back to me was, 'just trust me.' And so I (and my wife even more so) just had to trust Him.
As well as me working away from home, my mum was in intensive care in the UK with vasculitis, shingles and viral meningitis. She nearly died twice. I cannot explain in words what this felt like. To be so far away from home and know all this was going on and to not be seeing my wife and kids for comfort was agonising. BUT. Though it all, I trusted God. I'm glad I did because she is alive and in recovery at home - hallelujah!
Back in England, everyone thought we were having an amazing time. All they saw on Facebook was pictures of stunning beaches, updates on how many people on a weekly basis were getting saved at church, pictures of the kids cuddling koalas, Instagrams of stunning Melbourne and us saying how great God was. The thing is, both my wife and I hate being negative and didn't want to say publicly what we were going through, as we felt friends back home would be worried sick about us. It was only when someone pointed this out we realised that we hadn't been authentic at all. We had faced mountains in our faith and had faced them alone because we didn't want to say what was going on.
Now. After reading all of this you are probably thinking 'what the heck? Why didn't you just come home?' Well, the thing is, we heard so many life changing preaches that we began to understand something profound about our circumstances. God was ALLOWING us to got through these things because He was QUALIFYING us for even greater things! In fact we learned that to suffer for the sake of God's calling on our lives was actually a privilege and an honour because He was saying, 'You have what it takes to go through these things and every time you face these challenges and just learn to trust me, I am giving you a new qualification to be able to handle even bigger situations - WELL DONE for being faithful even when you haven't understood why.'
So now, looking back on the last 14 months, I wouldn't actually change a thing. I feel like as a family we have grown more in God than we EVER could have done if we had stayed in England and not obeyed God in moving to Melbourne. In fact, without that detour to Melbourne we would not have been prepared or equipped for this next season in Sydney. Is Sydney going to be easier for us? Probably not, but it will be different because we now have what it takes to face new challenges.
When we felt like it was time to move to Sydney, it felt like God was saying that we had been victorious and it was now time to get out of the difficult harbour and experience the ocean and the goodness of God. The other thing that happened was my job came to and end at the beginning of November, our lease was due to run out and it just felt like God was giving us permission to finally step into the city He had spoken about over 10 years ago.
Now we are in Sydney I am fully expectant that God is going to use us massively. All what we've learned as a family and individuals will be such an encouragement to people around us. Sometimes God can allow you to journey the hardest of road and its very hard to keep going but I am so grateful that He has never let us down. He has been faithful to His word in EVERY circumstance and although it's been the hardest thing we've ever done, we have never said no to His leading, either. We have just learned to trust Him.
So now we are in this new season, I am more confident than ever that moving to Australia and learning to trust God in every single circumstance can only mean that we will get to experience Him in even greater measure from now on. I am so excited that we have finally arrived and I promise that I will certainly write more as we see Sydney transformed and lives changed forever.
What is God qualifying you for at the moment? If you are facing low seasons, don't see them as trials, see them as God saying 'Well done my child, I am qualifying you for something new - SOMETHING BIGGER IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN!' Amen!