This is hard writing this, because I am right in the middle of it. Stuck in the thoughts and having my heart tugged, but it feels like it’s the right thing to do! So here I go, over the cliff… I’ll panic later!
I have always hated the verse to that Matt Redman song ‘Blessed be your Name’ the words are:
‘You give and take away,
You give and take away,
My heart will choose to say,
Blessed be your name.’
Don’t be mistaken, it’s an excellent song, fantastic theology and I love singing it… I just struggle with the words. I have tried some alternatives, Ben (my son) thought it was ‘You give us take-away’ which I prefer. So for a while, I sang that instead (hopefully – I like take-away’s). Another way I have changed it was to sing this: ‘You give and take away, but I will choose to STAY…’Thankfully, Matt Redman was a little more accurate than me!
We are at the beginning of looking for our next church. Neil’s curacy is coming to an end and we have to think about the future. I have loved it here, I have made wonderful friends and enjoyed the church, the community, our house and the beautiful surrounding area. Of course, there has been the hard and tough things of life too. But we have done that all here, making roots and growing together with others. We have been very happy and God has really blessed us. God gave us something, and now we have to accept that he will take it away. It sounds hard, maybe even cruel, but it is what Neil and I asked for. We asked that God would take us places, that he would use us to share his love with others. That we could be there for the people he wanted us to be there for, and that they would be there for us. He asked us to foster a place and a people and in return we were also fostered by that same place and people. Of course we know that our relationships are not over and many will continue, but it is the end of a season. Neil and I are not very clever, we did not have a master plan for being a great Curate (no offence Neil) or clergy family and I am sure we have made many mistakes! But we know that God has asked us to love others and that is what we have tried to do. It means that for the next year we will feel a little unsettled; which I will demonstrate daily by talking too much, being super excited about everything and doing far too many things… an obvious reaction surely?!
It struck me this morning that God gave me my children. I have heard people say that children are gifts from God; I like that! So, it’s our job to love those gifts and look after them to the best of our abilities. It also means that all those worries we have about our kids, God has them too. Where our protection of them is limited, God’s is not! He loves them and will protect and nurture them with us. If they were first God’s then he must love them more than I do… and I love them quite a lot (most days).
I believe that the people, the communities and the church here, were first God’s and we got one heck of a gift when we arrived! In that, I know that God loves the people, the communities and his church in this place and that he will go on with them, like he does us. Letting go of something is never easy! Whether it’s my side of the argument, a child moving away from home or in our case leaving people here and moving away, it’s not an enjoyable experience. I grip onto stuff tightly and no one is going to loosen my fingers! But this morning I was helped, I loosened my grip a little, as I remembered that God will look after me, my husband and my children. That God will look after the people and things of this place too, as before it was my house, my community or my friends, they were his.
God gives and takes away from us, but he has everything in his hands. Please do not misunderstand me, there are many ways to hear this song and many types of loss. Matt Redman and his wife wrote this regarding far more serious loss than I am experiencing and shared though it how God sustained them. This song was a gift from them and in its honesty I have been challenged and encouraged by it. My security and my confidence comes from knowing that there is a God who loves me. And, whilst I am still holding on fairly tightly, eating a ton of chocolate, praying fervently and singing that verse grudgingly, I have hope that someone up there has a plan.