Normally (at least until 2020 came along), over the summer our family would holiday at some incredibly relaxing beach somewhere. We’d save up for it… and look forward to it for the whole year.
We’d usually do nothing. Well, nothing but spend time together… and maybe read that book we hadn’t gotten to all year. If we felt like it we’d swim, but we’d definitely enjoy the sunshine and the long peaceful days.
At some stage, as the days went on, we’d reflect on the year that had been and seek the Lord for the new year to come.
It’s nothing and everything all at the same time.
But, like I said, that was in a normal year!
Last year, as 2020 was coming to a close, Cass and I could see our plans for a “normal” summer imploding like a slow motion scene from some crazy dystopian Hollywood movie. Borders were closed, restrictions applied and our holiday plans were sent into a spin.
I had no idea of the different plans God had for this summer. He had a project in mind that would set me up for the new year and prophetically prepare me for the direction our Church would take as we journey forward.
Let me explain… to do that I’ll take you back to last November for a minute…
Cass and I had been talking about the summer and how we wanted to make it a win for the family despite the restrictions. It was in that moment that she said a sentence I didn’t expect to hear from her and will probably never forget…
She said “what if we rented a caravan over the summer?”
I laughed out loud… then realized she was serious.
“Yeah” I said.
But I was thinking “there is no way!!”
And probably because I’m stingy, but also possibly to test how serious she was about camping, I replied with… “If we’re going to rent one, we’d probably be better off buying a cheap old one and doing it up”.
I literally didn’t know what I was saying!!!!
But, with that, Cass took to Gumtree to see what might be possible.
Needless to say, she was optimistic we’d find something “cute”… and I was “realistic” about what we may actually end up with.
Long story short, two days later we were the proud owners of a “cute” and “realistic” 1970’s Franklin Regent Caravan which Cass appropriately name “Frankie”.
And as I began working on restoring the old van, the Lord began working on me too.
He’s taught me so much over these last few months.
I’ve realized afresh that neglecting the little things can cause huge problems. Like in the caravan, over the years small cracks had developed in the window seals. These cracks caused leaks and water had gotten into the walls which rotted out the foundations. The previous owners didn’t do the regular maintenance that was needed, they ignored the regular work and it caused major problems.
We can all do that in our lives, can’t we? We can so easily ignore the little things. The unanswered doubts, the “small” sins, the negative thinking, all the stuff that can get in and ruin our foundations.
We neglect the word of God, and prayer… and we try to think it’s not going to affect anything. But it does have an effect. Like in the caravan, ignoring the little things can result in becoming hollow, and empty on the inside.
After I discovered that those cracks had allowed water into the walls, I soon found that it had attracted ants as well. There was literally a colony of the little omnivorous enemies living inside the walls of our “cute” looking caravan.
And as a result, I’ve learnt that it’s what under the surface of our lives that really matters.
Ants eat everything. They eat away at whatever is in front of them.
Makes me think about the stuff under the surface of our lives. What’s in there? Is it feeding us or eating away on our souls?
The Bible reminds us that God looks at the heart. But also tells us that the heart can be deceitful. We sometimes don’t even know our own hearts, that’s why real, authentic community is so important.
Without it, stuff can get in and change our hearts.
We think we’re okay, but under the surface there can be a different story.
The other thing I’ve rediscovered as I’ve worked on the caravan is that there’s no getting away from the truth that a Godly life takes tenacity, strength of character and a commitment to finishing well.
I obviously didn’t know what I was getting myself into with the caravan. I was naive. I thought it would be done quickly and with no work. The reality is, it’s taken longer, been harder and cost more than I could have imagined. It’s also been more fun and more rewarding that I could have ever hoped for. It’s not finished, but it’s on it’s way to becoming more than I thought it could be.
The journey of faith is exactly like that, isn’t it? We want it to be something it’s not. We can be naive. But I know it to be true that life in Christ is always better than we could dream if we enter into the work of becoming. If we put our “hand to the plough” and actively “seek God with all our heart, mind and strength”.
I’m not sure how 2020 left you. What plans you had that didn’t happen.
And I don’t know what 2021 will look like for any of us.
But I do know that God has it all in hand. He wastes nothing. He wants to work on, in and through us.
And I believe He’s inviting us to do the same.
And so we’ve committed to learning the God-lessons He’s got for us… even from an old caravan.
We’re not going to ignore the little things.
We will work on the heart of things, and the stuff that can eat away at us “under the surface”.
And we will do all we can to grow in tenacity, in character. We will do the work. We will finish well.
So as we continue to work on the caravan and our own lives, we invite you to do the same and let’s watch as He rescues, rebuilds, and restores us in the days to come.
Over to you,