Not Holding my Breath…

holding_breath.jpg If you’ve followed this blog for a while then you’d know that it started as a way of documenting the journey we have been on as suburban missionaries, exploring different ways to express church and mission.

It was a way of trying to help those from our old church stay in touch. But I don’t think anyone ever read it! Along the way it just became a place for me to reflect, vent and do the occasional brain-dump.

So for those who care, here’s the latest in the Upstream story…

As you may know not much has turned out as we had hoped or intended. I was talking with a friend yesterday about this and we both agreed strongly that in spite of where it has taken us we feel it has been an incredibly rich and valuable time. The talk of success and failure always surrounds our analysis.

I am very conscious that we have not achieved what we set out to achieve – to see lots of people become Christians and formed into a community. I’d say that is failure. We simply weren’t able to do what we thought we could. I’m not particularly happy about that because I value achievement, but along the way I have also learnt that we set some goals over which we had no control whatsover and that was pretty dumb.

As much as we haven’t achieved what we came here for, I’d say God has been able to accomplish a fair bit, sometimes because of us and often in spite of us. We can look back at many fantastic moments and many very significant achievements. They weren’t what we expected, but I do think we had a very narrow perspective in the first few years of being here.

I know the story of the boy who shot the arrow and then drew a bullseye around it, so I’m cautious of sounding like that. But I do sense God has been at work in many ways even though I have struggled with disappointment at not achieving our initial goals. As I sit here tonight I feel quite released from those pressures. I don’t lament this ‘failure’ the way I used to, yet I still long for people to meet Jesus and follow him. I guess I’m just so much aware of how little real influence I have over that.

So after last year being a difficult time as we saw 2 core families move on, we were just settling into a healthy pattern this year when we discovered that Mike & Heidi are going to off in 2 months to Broome with a work transfer. They have been fantastic friends and brilliant team members, but they are tired and in need of a rest so as this opportunity presents itself it feels right that they take it.

Our team is getting smaller… again…Effectively it leaves Gav & Helen & Danelle and I as the ‘team’.

And… you know who’s heading off next year for 9 months of travel?…

So where does that leave us then?…

Yes, we do ask the question ‘is it time to call it quits and re-think how we do life and church and mission?’ Yet in spite of the constantly shrinking team that doesn’t seem to be where God is taking us.

We all love living where we do, amongst the people around here and life feels pretty right.

I am actually quite open to finishing what we are doing and re-forming, or even moving on if need be, but as odd it may seem none of really feels drawn in that direction at this point in time. Maybe we will be in a different place in 12 or 24 months, but right now, its business as usual.

Someone asked me the other day what would make me really happy and enthused and I found myself answering straight back, ‘I’d be a pig in mud if we were able to find another two or three families to join our team.’ As I said it reminded me that my heart is very much in the work God has called us to here, but at times it does get a bit lonely and a few other people to work with would be my dream.

But given that very little else has gone to plan I am not holding my breath!sophie s choice movie

15 thoughts on “Not Holding my Breath…

  1. well mate, the four of you (and kids in tow) are always welcome to head south 10min on a wednesday night and share a meal, a wine and a coffee with your extended family of brothers and sisters in and around joondalup 🙂 .

  2. is truly eerie how I could substitute our specifics into this post and it would be EXACTLY what we are experiencing right now with our community. we need to talk.

  3. interesting Mak!

    And I think we need to hear that from one another too.

    The ‘grit’ of this kind of life is much more common than the gloss!

  4. Sometimes your the bug…sometimes your the windshield.

    The amount of times I have wanted to quit, considered it, and even written a letter of resignation. And I dont know one pastor who does not go through that.

    We are in a spiritual battle. This morning I was crying as I thought of those who I love, but who dont love Jesus, and how on earth are they going to respond? I would do almost anything…but their lives are so busy, and filled with ‘such important things’.

    My prayer….God will birth some new vigour in you as you travel around Aust, may your team grow, may you recieve some great encouragement before you leave.

  5. Whichever way it goes with upstream, I have really enjoyed your reading of your journey over the last couple of years.

    I agree with Mark E’s prayer above. Maybe the trip around Oz will be like a missionary on furlow?

  6. odd. I was having this very similar conversation with my pastor and a friend the other day. And then it seems God has made the vision bigger instead of smaller…

    And of all things it seems we might be moving back to Perth at the end of this year maybe. Odd timing as far as our church community goes it seems. Maybe not.

    God bless as you find God’s next step for you.

  7. Your goals might not of been met – I am sure His goals were. I’m pleased stuff does not go to plan, often He prefers to work outside those plans. Your role in His Body Hamo is far far greater than Upstream – me thinks.

  8. He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.”

    Never underestimate SEEDS!

  9. Hey there, it’s been a while. Sorry about that. Our journey sounds as if its been similiar in some respects. I personally hate words like failure and success now, they are such worldy words. This gospel that we live cannot be measured in goals like how many. Our measure of significance needs to come from a deeper place than that. I take note that in terms of success and failure Jesus’ life was a failure, a dismall failure, alone, betrayed and abandoned. But it was his obedience to the calling on his life that God measure Christ. Read what Paul had to say in Phillipians 2 about God’s response to Christ’s obedience to that calling. Maybe you haven’t acheived what you thought you would, and I know that that is disappointing, but perhaps you should trust the inner man and trust the calling that is in you.

    As has become my common saying these days

    Love God and do what you want… just do it in that order otherwise you’ll screw up your life.

    God bless


  10. Hi Guys

    I’m not sure how that post came across, but I hope the tone wasn’t melancolic – but more reflective.

    I feel good at the moment, but obviously a little puzzled at the direction things have been heading.

    Paul – nice to hearfrom you! 🙂 I am happy to say I ‘failed’ in what I set out to achieve – but I don’t think our venture has been a failure.

    I think sometimes we can fear ‘failure’ too much – to point of qualifying our failures as successes in a different light. SOmetimes you just gotta say ‘nope – missed the boat there!’

    I think we need to learn from our failures – even celebrate our attempts and then move on better informed and ready to try again.

    So, while I am never happy to ‘fail’ I would rather do that than not attempt anything.

    Anyway – all that to say – I’m not feeling too anxious about all this – but am puzzled at the strange and wonderful journey we find ourselves on!

  11. Hamo,

    These can be difficult days. Hang in there with what GOD gave you. Sometimes you just have to keep marching on.

    If we were living in your community, you would see my ugly mug.

    I will be praying, and thanks for sharing.

  12. Mate…we have followed your progress, the ups and the downs with keen interest from the other side of the ditch (which is a long way from the west coast of Oz). Its been a great encouragement to us – we’ve been involved in a similar community, moving into a suburb to make a difference with people, and we too have seen those who came to know Jesus through the community all move away.

    Now, its just us, one family, so we know something of your feelings. Perhaps we will never know what other impacts we’ve had, but one thing I’ve learned is that God never judges success by numbers (hey, He was always left with the remnant!).

    Keep strong, and keep the posting going – you’ve been a terrific encouragement to us. We truely feel a bond tho’ we’re so far away and never met.

    God bless, enjoy the journey – in more ways than one 🙂


    Lower Hutt, NZ

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