Sometimes God speaks so clearly that you “know that you know” what direction to turn and how to proceed with important decisions. If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that’s what happened with regard to us planting a church in Australia next year. We have no doubts that God has called us! There are other times when we pray and seek God for direction and we don’t really feel like He is directing us anywhere! All of our options seem pretty good. There’s no clear indication it’s a mistake no matter which way we choose.
One of my favorite scriptures is Psalm 119:105. It says that God’s word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. Two significant thoughts arise from this simple phrase: one, that God only illuminates the next step that is in front of us- a lamp isn’t very bright and doesn’t allow us to see very far ahead. Secondly, there’s no point in lighting up our feet for the sake of staring at them! I’m pretty sure we need a lamp at our feet because we are moving them somewhere and we need to see where we are stepping.
So many times, Christians I know stop themselves from making decisions because they feel God hasn’t spoken to them. They are “praying” about “IT” for ages. At some point, we have to start moving in a direction. God can’t make our feet move. He can’t steer a parked car. We have to trust that when we are praying and seeking God while pressing forward that He will let us know if we are making a wrong turn; we can then switch directions. I call this a closed door. God will close a door, meaning we will hit a dead-end if we are not supposed to step in a certain direction. He is faithful and God is not going to allow us to mess up our future because we step out in faith in something we are seeking Him about.
As Greg and I began to pray about where God would have us plant a church, we had no “aha moment.” Literally, we began to research a city we like for its location on the map and proximity to both Sydney and Forster, where Greg’s family lives. Newcastle, New South Wales, has a population of about half a million and we love that. There are beaches and lakes and the weather is wonderful. We did a hundred Google searches and Greg spoke to Aussies who know the area well. While he was in Australia at the Hillsong Conference in early July, he asked pastors who have lived in the region for years what the spiritual climate and churches are like there. He even met with a city planner in Newcastle to talk about the economy and growth potential. All lights were green.
There were no hurdles or negative opinions about us moving there and starting this journey. As a matter of fact, the consensus among everyone is that Newcastle is a great place to raise a family; it needs a great church; it’s growing and thriving; the age demographic is diverse. Housing is more affordable in Newcastle than in Sydney. Oh, and Lonely Planet declared Newcastle number 9 in their top 10 picks for best cities in the world! (Check out www.visitnewcastle.com.au for info.)
God hasn’t written the word Newcastle in the clouds for us as of yet. Our decision may not sound super-spiritual but He certainly hasn’t closed any doors. So, we are moving forward, one lamp lit step at a time towards moving to Newcastle, NSW, Australia next summer to start a church!