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.