Two years ago today we were packing up our lives in Sydney, freaking out about selling our car (or at least trying not to freak out in a faith-filled way), facing saying goodbye to friends and church family, grieving a little bit but excited to see family in Europe too.
As I look back on the last two years, I realise what a huge amount has taken place, much of it completely unexpected. We have been stretched in every way possible. Stretched til we didn’t think we could possibly stretch any more. Stretched to breaking point, without quite breaking.
We have faced our three children learning a new language and a new culture, taking buses by themselves, making new friends, sitting exams in a language they cannot yet speak fluently, bravely facing fears and anxieties with tears and nervous smiles.
We have faced employment stress where everyone on the team quit all at once and we didn’t know how the job would get done. There has been managers shouting in the office, massive stress, ways of behaviour we have never come across before, confrontational meetings and lines that had to be drawn.
There have been literally months spent in the hospital, MRIs, scans, blood tests, nasal drains, catheters, ECGs, canulas, five operations, multiple visited to the emergency department.
There have been car sale scares, car break downs, large unexpected bills, overpayments, underpayments, desperate rental searches, lost bank cards, blocked bank cards, broken washing machines, TVs, internet, absurd amounts of frustrating paperwork, many many hours spent waiting for buses, the challenge of overcoming driving fears.
And yet… we have survived it all!
I think if you had told me what would happen in two years before we moved I probably wouldn’t have bought the plane tickets. We would still be in Australia. And I’m not sure I would have had the courage to sign up to church plant.
These things have stretched us beyond what we found have imagined but mixed in there have been fantastic days exploring one of the loveliest parts of France, many much loved visitors, soooo many answers to desperate prayers, incredible favour on our girls inn their school work, a growth in resilience in all of us, better family habits.
Jesus never said we wouldn’t face challenges but he did promise that he already won the victory for us and that he would give us overwhelming peace. Sometimes its been a fierce battle to find and keep that peace but we have had it in the end.
As I look back on the last two years you might think that we could feel depressed and negative but the overwhelming impression and memory is one of joy and laughter. We are slowly finding our roots here, making friends, making good memories, winning battles.
How can this be possible?
I’ve been reading the book of John in a different way recently, really wanting to find out who Jesus was, what the cross and the resurrection mean.
In John 1: 16 ((NIV) says Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given.
The word fullness in the original Greek text means “abundance” and the original Greek for grace is charis which means joy, sweetness, delight, pleasure, loving kindness. So that means that what Jesus have us out of the abundance of what was in him was…
Joy upon joy already given
Delight upon delight
Sweetness upon sweetness
Pleasure upon pleasure
Loving kindness upon loving kindness.
This is what we have experienced this year. Despite the stretch, the unpleasant, the stressful, the anxious, the fear, Jesus had given us personally victory over it all and we have come through it with a feeling of joy upon joy.
The other day I drove Amelie to her friend’s house. By myself. To a place I had never been before. Further than I had driven before. On French roads. In a manual car. In narrow roads. With some blimmin’ crazy drivers cutting me up.
It was a big stretch for me but I knew I had to do it. On the way home, the sense of euphoria from the victory over what had been a quite paralyzing, life-limiting fear, was extraordinary.
From his abundance comes joy upon joy. He enables us to do what we never dreamed we could do, to face the unfaceable and come through, not just scraping by, but with joy genuine joy and laughter
John 16:31 Jesus answered them…. I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.”