Since I have been open to and aware of it, I found that very often God orchestrates multiple areas of my life to coincide. I say "very often" instead of "always" because I believe I interfere, resist or try to orchestrate this myself and end up missing His beautiful invitation to come and be Mary at his feet instead of Martha in the kitchen. I also say "since I've been aware of it" because I think our self-awareness is so great until about 20 that we cannot even hear other flesh and blood people when they talk to us over the incessant self-chatter going on in our souls and brains. But, maybe that's just me.
At any rate, I remember first being acutely aware of the aligning of what had previously seemed incongruous pieces of my life into a beautiful "whole picture" my sophomore year of college (okay, I wasn't quite 20, but I also didn't acknowledge that the revelation wasn't all about me for years either). I was taking British Lit, World History and Old Testament that semester (along with other non-relevant classes). One week, my world history class ended up discussing the exact same time frame that pertained the book of the Bible we were covering in Old Testament and the over arching themes from both of those related to the essay assignment from Brit Lit. It was like waking up and realizing that the whole world had an order and I was just beginning to catch on. It was intoxicating! I began looking for interrelations between all of my classes every semester, and usually they did pertain to each other. Besides helping my be more witty and poignant on my essays in each class (I'm sure my Bible Prof is still confused about me quoting Beowulf in relation to Daniel facing Lions), I'm not sure I learned a lot of deep spiritual truths from creating my own "classical education model" of my classes. However, the trend has held true as God has spoken to me (not out-loud! for Heaven's sake! I would pass out) over the years since then.
This jaunt down memory lane does have a point.
God has done it again.
But this time He's coordinating efforts between Jonathan and I to save time. I came back from our Madison visit 3 days before Jonathan. Partly because I couldn't bear to be away from my babies any more and partly because he needed to be able to focus at the conference he was attending. He went to Basic Training for Church Planters put on by the SWBA (I think...or maybe some other acronym I haven't learned yet). At the conference he had to develop and present a Vision and Core Values Statement for our church planting effort to Madison. We've been working on Mission Statement and Vision Statement over the last year, so I didn't expect a huge flux from those basic tenets. However, he came back all jazzed up about his class and vision statement and core values and the process by which he wants to plant and....you get the idea. (I know some reading this have never and will never meet Jonathan, but take my word for it, I married the one man on the planet who talks more than I do! He uses up his alotted word quota for the day and launches into mine!)
This was exciting and inspirational and I wanted to take notes and make a slide show for him. The problem was that he flew in at 10:00 Wednesday night and left for a 76 hour shift at work at 8:00 Thursday morning. So, between kissing his boys goodnight, unpacking and re-packing his bag and letting him get a few hours of sleep, he didn't really get the time to sell me on the vision God gave him. He left with, "Tell you everything when I get back..." floating back to me from the receding Jeep.
But God knows that we need to be on the same page. From (nearly) the start, we have been equally excited about and committed to this calling on our family. For that's what it is: a calling to our whole family. There is no such thing as the solitary church planter (unless he's single). The whole family plants. We all give til it hurts when it comes to Jesus. And that's how we want to be as a family. But there's only so many hours in a week and we run out of them before we run out things to do to reunite and revamp and re-energize (Mark Driscoll at Re:Surgence would be so proud of all my "re"s). So, God took matters into His own hands (where they should have been all along) and gave me my own crash course in vision.
While we were in Wisconsin, Mark Millman had given us Transformational Church by Ed Stetzer and Thom S. Rainer. I flew home with it and started reading it on the plane. Immediately I was gripped by the ideas presented and the passion displayed through their research of churches that are actually out there living the Gospel. Their emphasis on "heart for the community" really echoed with me. They talked about "relational intentionality" that had already been circling in my head. And their chapter on transformational leaders convicted and inspired me. I was so excited to share with Jonathan when we had a minute (haha).
Well, we finally got that 15 minute window between sending the boys to play and someone crying and we sat down to talk. Jonathan launched into his pitch and it was eerie to me as I began hearing all the things that had stirred my heart over the last week. He showed me the diagram and shared the core values and they resonated with what all God had led me too from reading Transformational Church. I felt such peace from knowing that we were already on the same track, already sharing the same brokenness and vision for Madison.
On top of the book, my ladies Bible study has been going through 1 Peter and it landed squarely with what we are experiencing and praying for. We are being dispersed to go and spread the Gospel to the outer areas, way out of the Bible belt. And there will be trials and hardships and persecutions. But when we truly love Jesus and live out of that love, our love for the city of Madison will explode and our prayerful dependence on Him will lead us on the adventure of a lifetime. I'm so excited to walk with my husband, chasing Jesus down this path.
Now, if we could just sell our house...Actually, it makes all the mundane stuff fall into perspective too. If I believe that "He who has called [us] is faithful" enough to implant the identical vision in Jonathan and I from 1700 miles apart, then I believe "he who began a good work in [us] will bring it to completion".
"He makes my feet like hinds feet and makes me walk on my high places"