The Things that Take Years

Courtney and I recently took a trip to Flint, MI, the burnt out monument to the nostalgic era of the Auto Industry. Thousands of small, quickly poorly built houses, made for the flocks of would be auto workers are now boarded up and condemned. Entire abandoned neighborhoods are bulldozed to prevent transient crime. The scene is a bit dismal. We were there to talk with our friend's, Shawn and Nadia, about the possibility of moving there to help restart a church. They had only been there three or so months by that time, but talked as if that past three months had carried with them a lifetime of church challenges that they were patiently and graciously working through. We spent the weekend talking and dreaming about the what ifs and could bes.

While we ultimately decided not to make the move, but after being asked back in August the thought of it forced us to ask ourselves, if we left Goshen, would we be leaving anything other than fantastic family and friends behind? We had, after all spent that last several years meeting new people, making memories, and starting our marriage, but was there anything active in our lives that counted for the Kingdom of God?

The initial answer to that question came from a cricket in the room. It wasn't as if we were ignoring God, but based on our life as we saw it, He was a part of our life rather than the heartbeat of it. Our daily rhythm, our time spent, our focus, our liesure, was largely holy oil poured over personal preference. Not to say it isn't still largely that way, but the gravity of the question, fueled by more questions from a book called The Money Experiment and now a book we're covering in our small group called The Tangible Kingdom, is pulling us toward what I think is a more purposeful place. It feels like the opportunities are coming out of the woodwork.

By the time we made our visit to Flint, we felt like leaving Goshen right now would be leaving a lot of loose ends that took several years to develop. It seems that most things worth doing take a lot of time. While the results of God's work seem sudden, hindsight shows a seemingly wayward but thoughtful path that lead to the present, a million small steps toward the cliff so to speak. God is not after all suddenly waking up and saying, "Oh I guess I should start paying attention and do something about that." No, the one who does not get tired or distracted has long been weaving stories for us to enter into. As my least favorite teacher I've ever had once wisely said (though to take away his credit he was quoting someone else), "When God wants to grow a squash, he takes 8 weeks. When he grows an oak, he takes a hundred years."

I suspect that for Shawn and Nadia, there is a lot of work to be done in Flint, just as there is much ongoing work for Courtney and I in Goshen, a lot of conversation developing too slowly, a lot of oak tree like growth that will last but take its sweet time getting there. But make no mistake, God is still telling his story, word by word, and from what I've read so far, He's quite the writer.