Church Matters – March 2017

Many years ago my wife Pam and I decided that it was time to move to a bigger house. We lived in Windlesham, a village in Surrey that served the commuter belt into London and the technology centres of the Thames Valley. Windlesham is a good village to live in, and so we determined that in moving from our 3 bedroom end of terrace home we would look for a detached 4 bedroom property in the same area. The larger and detached house would provide a sound base for the start of a family.

At the time we hadn’t long been Christians, attaching ourselves to the local Church of England church, but I do remember praying to God about the move. Almost since the time of becoming Christians my business career had taken off, and so from a financial viewpoint we could just about stretch to a detached property in the village. And so to my mind the perfect property came up – a 4 bedroom detached house, complete with equipped kitchen, downstairs study, mock but tasteful Georgian pillars at the front-door, ensuite bathroom and double garage. It was also on the same housing development to where we currently lived – just a little bit more up-market and in keeping with our (alright, my) sense of rising status.

Our offer for the property was accepted and the usual train of estate agent and solicitor events put into place. The necessary paid-for structural survey of the new house was completed and we were pleasantly sailing towards completion. Then it happened – the sellers pulled out. I was somewhat dumbstruck, firstly that the sellers had allowed us to go so far down the line (at our expense) before pulling out, and secondly that it seemed that God was with us on this one – it was the perfect house – surely that was the plan, and now it was in tatters. What’s going on God!!?When I look back I realise that it was a real learning point for me, somewhat painful at the time but ultimately beneficial for the long-term. As we approach Easter I’m reminded that the followers of Jesus probably also had a similar learning point around those first Easter events 2,000 years ago. They had been with Jesus for nearly 3 years and had seen some astounding things – people healed, storms calmed, thousands of people fed, challenging teaching, miraculous transformations – it must have been a strange but enthralling lifestyle. And now they were in Jerusalem having been received by a hugely supportive crowd who treated Jesus like a king. Yes, there were the ongoing problems with the religious authorities, but now, surely, was the time when it was all going to get sorted and they would begin to live the new and perfect life.

But then, as we know, it all seemed to go badly wrong. Jesus was arrested, interrogated, sent to Pontius Pilot, beaten, humiliated and killed on the cross. Along the way the disciples went through their own sense of fear – the main disciple, Peter, even denying that he had anything to do with Jesus. What had seemed the perfect, expected outcome now lay in tatters. Then came Easter Sunday. God had been in control all the time, and the real perfect outcome was now in place. Through Jesus’ death sin can be forgiven and the burdens that weigh us down can be removed, with life after physical death perfectly demonstrated. Tough to get to, but the better and perfect outcome was the result.

There are times when our purposely crafted plans or heart-felt desires just don’t seem to come through, but that doesn’t mean that God doesn’t exist or doesn’t help. As the Apostle Paul came to learn, God works for the wellbeing of his followers in all things, and even in the darkest moments he can bring good out of bad. It just may not be in the way that we expected. And the house? Well, shortly afterwards we found another – same development, slightly less grand, less cost, tucked away at the end of a cul-de-sac. It was the perfect home to start and raise our family. All praise be to God.

May your Easter be full of peace, complete with new revelations.