Dave Martin writes:
I’m sitting here, drinking tea, pondering God’s movements and wondering how he is shaping Messy Churches around the world in the midst of the coronavirus.
Sometimes it’s hard to see where God is during particular moments in our lives, isn’t it? Especially when we’re going through difficult times, like a pandemic.
For me, sadly, my role as part of the Messy Church leadership team will soon be coming to an end, due to the strain the virus has caused on the wonderful BRF. But amid the difficulty, I find myself challenged to remember that God’s timeline isn’t always what I think it will be.
So, what about your context and your Messy Church? You may look back to when your Messy Church met as ‘normal’, when everything was thriving; but now things are harder, a new normal is presenting itself and you wonder what God has in store for your Messy community, and if it will ever look the same again.
Sudden change, paired with the lack of understanding of where God is, can be disheartening and overwhelming, and we can even question if God is as present now as he was before. And that’s okay, you’re not alone. We are all facing these challenges right now.
Maybe your team and families have grown further apart over the last few months, and maybe it’s felt harder to support and worship with them in the same Messy way because of the restrictions on physically meeting. It’s easy to get weighed down, but it’s also easy to lose sight of where God is moving around you and seek to control the situation independently. Perhaps he’s just as present as he’s always been, and perhaps he has simply moved position, and is encouraging you to do the same.
A lady once said to me, when talking about this subject, that we should ‘live in the hindsight that we don’t have yet’, which is a bit of a mind-twister! In other words, where would future me see God moving right now if I looked back at this very moment?
So often we say things like, ‘Looking back, I can now see how God was moving in that situation, but at the time I couldn’t see him.’ This lady’s challenge was simple: to change our posture. Rather than waiting for a realisation of a past situation, get ahead of the game; work out where he is moving to right now, and join in.
It’s helpful, I feel, for all of us as Christians to be reminded that God does not obey our frameworks, timescales, goals or desires, and to remember that our role is to take his lead and go with his flow, particularly when times are tough. We can’t contain him, dictate where he goes or what he does, and, as we may know, a life with him means embracing this messy journey.
So lament what has been lost, but also really spend some time reflecting on what God is doing right now in your Messy Church. Perhaps he’s moving in your team, speaking to your families in new ways, or perhaps he’s lifting up new individuals to join in the lockdown Mess! He may well not want you to focus your energies in the same areas you did before. Leading your Messy Church may look different now. It may be less about the ‘things you’re doing’ and more about ‘the relationships you’re nurturing’. So, wherever you are in the world, I’d encourage you to work out where God is moving, move where he goes and ‘live in the hindsight that you don’t have yet’.
What has God been nudging you about recently?
What have you heard?
What have you missed?
What have others been telling you?
Are you looking in the right place?
Are your desires his desires?
What does the Bible say?
What might surprise you about where you might find God right now?
What haven’t you anticipated?
What is he challenging you about?
What does God want to say to you about your Messy Church today?