When you start something like Cornerstone you have no real idea of what lies ahead. You feel the call of God on your life and, as I tried to explain in the previous post, you respond to it. Whilst we would say that we have a clear mandate from God to be doing what we are, we still often wonder exactly what that means in practice.
It has been a year now since our offer on the property was accepted. We had hoped to be up and running by last October half term but it wasn’t to be. From the outset we had some very clear ‘words’ from God about the kind of journey we were undertaking. Some were encouraging. Some were more frightening. The hardest one for both of us was that it would be ‘one step at a time’. After what has seemed like a lifetime of patience, to find myself in yet another position to get some more practice in, I had to swallow hard and figure out a way to really trust God. And I mean REALLY trust God. Let me explain.
We had enough money in a pension to buy the property, but not enough to finish the building works. There was always going to be a shortfall but God had let us know that He would provide. Now, we haven’t had any regular income since 2013 and were ‘living by faith’, as they say. That is to say, the only money we had coming in was from family and friends who took pity on us every now and again. And although it has been tedious, frustrating, difficult and altogether a little too ‘lastminute.com’, we have never (not once) gone without. How? I have no idea. Why? Because our Father, above all other things, is faithful.
When I think back to this time last year not only am I thankful that the Cornerstone has progressed and changed beyond recognition but I also acknowledge that our own walk and growth in God has been inextricably linked. God has bought us full circle in a year. We are in exactly the same position this year as we were last year. However, the major difference is how we have dealt with it. We learnt how to deal with it. The same challenges that last year had us spitting feathers, this year seem like minor irritations. Last year we were clutching at invisible straws and being tossed around in a sea of uncertainty. This year we stand on rocks that act as stepping stones across the now calm water. These rocks are God’s word to us. He had to bring us back round to face the same challenges to ensure we had learnt from the old ones. And it may be that we will face some similar challenges again in the future. But, if you can, learn from us.
The lesson is one of faith. If you put your hand up in a service for prayer to renew your commitment to God, be warned, He will test your resolve. If you tell God that you want to follow Him and do His work, you may well find yourself in a position to do just that. Whatever we do in response to His message it will always come at a cost to ourselves. If you want to follow Jesus (and I mean REALLY follow him) then you should be prepared to be tested and proved in each and every aspect of your life. Ultimately, following Jesus is all about laying down your whole life. Thankfully God doesn’t expect that to happen all at once. Instead He leads through various experiences. To start with when we face such experiences we tend to respond from our understanding. But faith in God demands something more than our own understanding…
“Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” [Proverbs 3:5]
Let’s break that down. To trust in God with all of your heart means that everything that defines who you are will have to be dependant upon God. Now to find yourself in that position where you have to totally rely upon Him you will have to put yourself ‘out there’ for Him to start with. I mean that it is very difficult to trust with all of your heart if you are leading a life of comfort. A good job, with a disposable income, a nice set of friends in a similar position…I mean what’s there to trust in God for? But put yourself into a position of say signing up for a year of overseas mission in the Far East or Africa with no income and that same trust is forced to grow quickly.
And then there’s the rest of the verse…don’t lean or rely upon your own understanding of things. The Kingdom of God often defies understanding. It is inside-out and upside down in comparison to our own understanding. Believing is seeing rather than the other way around. So to recap; Forget everything you know and if you can’t, don’t rely upon it but instead fix your eyes solely upon God and look to Him to provide everything you need. I can tell you that this is a great deal harder than you can ever imagine…and I have still such a long way to go.
Let’s imagine that you have been called by God to do something specific. You have no money, no resources and no idea where to start. You could tell your pastor but, if he or she are wise they will tell you the same that I am going to. You will have to step out in faith. Even when it seems like idiocy. That initial step is all it takes to activate the faith in you. God will then start to level your paths and provide who and what you need. The world will think you are mad, and so will some of the people you church with. If you have a word from God then use it like a rock, a firm place to stand. Never give up the ground to anyone. Ever.
The situation we are currently, on the face of it, is impossible. But not for God. It is only impossible when I rely upon my own understanding. With God all things are possible. People (from the church) have told us to do this or do that based solely upon their own understanding. And yet, we believe that God has spoken for us to do something else and upon that rock we will stand. A year ago that statement would have been impossible to say with any real conviction. Now I believe it totally. And God is faithful. We can’t see His purpose in this current situation but one thing I am absolutely certain of is this: He is IN this situation. He will never leave or forsake us. If we trust in Him He will never let us be put to shame.
We stand on the edge of our own River Jordan, waiting for His voice to call us forth. We stood here last year and He led us off to learn some much needed lessons. He might do it again. I don’t care if He does because I would rather be in a wilderness of His choosing than a mess of my own making.
Think of faith like a seed. Plant it. Every seed has to die to reproduce, just Like Jesus spending time in the grave. God will make that seed grow in the fertile soil of your being. Water it. Nourish it. Turn your face toward God and He will make you grow.