On the 29th of June 2017 we packed up our house and entered a period of transition. We drove down to the Cape, spent time in the USA and said our goodbyes to friends and family. Then on the 29th of September, exactly 3 months later, after experiencing 3 continents, all four seasons and flying a total of 45 hours in 44 days, we finally entered France!
It has been an almost six-year wait to get here. Almost six years since we felt that first whisper and prompting, a gentle tugging that got stronger over the years until we knew without a doubt that this is where God wanted us. There were many times along the road that we began to doubt and question, “was this really God?” “Why is this taking so long?” Now here we are and all the doubts over all those years are gone in an instant.
Now we face new challenges, some of them much greater and others which just seem silly. The first of these was baking powder.
There is so much one can take for granted in your own country or language. Even when we visited the States it was easy to go shopping, we could ask for what we wanted and our greatest obstacle was getting lost in the hugeness of Walmart. This has not been our experience in France.
Over the weekend Olivia asked me to buy her baking powder. You would think this would be a quick thing, the store is not nearly as big as Walmart, it is very close to our house, should take 20 minutes tops right? I confess that I spent almost an hour walking up and down those rows, phone out and Google translating everything that looked like it could even remotely be baking powder. Finally, defeated and convinced that there was no baking powder in all of Europe, I had to return home empty handed. Today is our twelfth day in France and still the baking powder eludes me.
It took us almost 2 hours and 2 attempts to open a bank account, it took us 5 hours to assemble bunk beds for the boys. I feel like Paul when he said in Romans “I do not understand what I do. The things I want to do, I do not (or in our case cannot) do.”
Someone gave us some very good advice. They told us to aim to do one thing every day, to look for small victories. This has helped us so much as we try to weigh up what feels like an overwhelming number of things that we should do. So, our victories have been the first time we could get to the shops without getting lost (seriously, I don’t know how I kept ending up so far off course), getting Luc registered for school and keeping the car in the right hand lane most of the time. With each small victory we grow in confidence and feel like we can take on more.
This reminds me so much of my journey as a young or new believer. There is a tension between this amazing love you have for your newfound saviour and this overwhelming feeling when you look at the Bible or believers around you and you wonder how you will ever get there. How do you get to France, or learn French, find baking powder, have an hour of quiet time and prayer, or even memorise a book of the Bible? I think it goes back to the very same advice. One step at a time, by doing one thing every day and looking at the small victories. If I keep going back to the shops, one day I will find the baking powder. If I start with reading a verse a day, or 2 minutes of prayer, it’s a start. This is the process of sanctification the Spirit is busy with in each of us. Small steps, little by little. His prompting and our obedience working together to form Christ in us. I might not see the difference between yesterday and today, but maybe between last year and this?
We are in France and we are learning. May we all also be in Christ and be growing.
1. When I became we
2. Step on to the water
3. This little light of mine
4. Luc, I am your father
5. A light to our path
6. Next to a stranger
7. Empty cupboards and croissants
8. Musings after the monument
9. Baby steps
10. Through the window
12. Crossing the road
13. Who am I?
14. Sticks and stones
15. Lost and Found
16. A Fixed Point
17. Les Poux
18. Pain au chocolat
19. Notre Dame
20. The temple to all the gods
21. The Palace
22. Dead Emperor, living King