expand my territory

He said, “stay; I have something for you here.” so we’re here still, staying, as we’ve been told. and in the staying, He’s changing my heart so that it wants to stay, to nestle in, to put down roots and spread out branches. and He’s been talking a lot about things like building family, and He’s been giving us hunches.

in our tender-shoot Madison Boiler Room, He’s moving us on the grassroots level. we are seeing life over small things like dude church and chick church and evening prayer, and other off-shoot, spontaneous activities. and we’re wondering together, if this is a FAMILY God’s building, what will the family tree of the Boiler Room look like?: maybe like all of us (now well established and raised to maturity in the family of the core team) growing up, getting married, and having babies, so to speak? yet still being brothers and sisters with one Papa, who go to one another’s soccer games and chorale concerts, who help one another with home repair projects, and bail each other out in times of trial. and now that this vision has been settling into my spirit, i can see that He’s already been moving in that direction. it’s not like the revelation of this “Building Family” strategy requires us to abruptly switch course, because He’s already set the course, and maybe now He’s just drawing our attention to what He’s been doing all along.

i never want to resist the river of God.

so that at this point, to buy a house in this neighborhood seems like an act of obedience. it says, “i have heard you, God, here i am. i will make a home here, plant a garden, buy and sell, and seek the peace of this city to which you’ve carried me.” and it just so happens that there’s a house, sitting a few blocks from here, empty and weary and in foreclosure, which means it is in our price range (as nearly no other at-assessment-price house in the city would ever be). we like where it is, and we’ve begun painting pictures of our lives unfolding in it’s rooms. we drive by it almost every day, and ask God please to reserve it for us, until we can creatively come up with cash for closing costs and a wee little down payment. because once we’re in it, it’ll be cheaper per month than our apartment is, and that would be good. and we could make some room there, even more than now, for sheltering folks and having babies.

meanwhile, all within a week following christmas, our dearest little hobo church (aka “the little church that could”) has suffered the loss of it’s pastor and the death of it’s director. all of this within 2 months of our discovery of the little place. for these two months, t and i have simply been showing up there, keeping our mouths shut and our ears open, waiting to see what God might have in store for us there (because we suspected there was something). and it might just be that he wants to give it to us, in part or in full… somewhere between the pastoring of the church services and the taking on of the entire non-profit (!). our new friends there, who don’t really know us from Adam and haven’t seen our credentials seem to think we might be the answer to some of their prayers, and they wonder if we’ll take it on. and i am sitting here in stunned disbelief because i have fantasized about this, but didn’t dare to expect it, nor even to ask for it. there are big ifs and hearts that need softening and legalities that need sorting… and the call to an internal commitment in our own hearts to say yes to this crazy venture, even when there are so very many unknowns. we’re doing research, uncovering historical information, and trying to listen to God’s heart for this little piece of his family. as pastor bill said, during his final sermon, “this isn’t bill’s church and it isn’t ___’s mission; it’s God’s. and God has a way of providing what He needs.”

God help us! how large are these things we’re asking you for! ready our hearts to carry them, if you do indeed intend to entrust them to us. in all things, may you be the One who is recognized as redeemer, provider, and breather of life into a just-born boiler room, an old house of Fifth street, and a weary old Mission.

anell reminded me today that we don’t do any work; we simply join God is what He is already doing. and when that’s the case, things fall into place with surreal ease. the sort of unfolding you witness and then say, “i can’t believe this is happening, but i saw it coming.”

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