Kori and the kids and I were walking a few days ago and we found a quaint street with detached old homes (attached to good-sized lots). Then came the deceivingly disastrous thought: “wouldn’t it be nice if we had found a house on this street.” You have to understand something. We have never lived in a “city.” Some would laugh at the thought of Emmaus as a city, but to me, it is. Any place where up-to-date zoning regulations are absent you have city life. (In a 2 block radius from our house there are homes, a mom-pop store, an elementary school, a church, a corporation’s warehouse/offices, an apartment building, a playground, a mechanic’s shop, and a Post Office. In a 3 block radius – add restraurants and coffee shops and retail stores…) Any place where cars are parallel parked in front of your house 24/7, you have city life. We have never lived in such place! So, on our walk, it took a nanosecond to observe a street without parallel-parked cars, without “back alley corporation traffic”… to begin the wishful thinking of a less cityish street. What a bummer of a thought.
Because, we love our home and neighborhood street. We love that we live on a street with KIDS… with neighbors who are from all walks and ages and interests… We have a lively “city block.” So WHY the momentary yearning for the quasi-city/quasi-suburban, bigger lots, spread out houses, no-parked-cars kind of set up? Because we are going through the emotions of a family plant that must precede the church plant!
Where does LIFE happen? We are committed that it happens at our home. Where does church happen? We are committed that it does not just happen in a building on a Sunday, but that it happens at our home on our city block. Why do most of us (me, me, me) get so easily derailed from a kingdom mindset among our neighbors and communities? It happens slowly and gradually… we begin to wish for this and that, to live on that street with the less congested feel… to the point that we don’t actually live on our street anymore. We live only IN our house, not AT our house which is attached to the neighborhood. And when LIFE happens in such an isolated internal place, the thought goes that we can take it anywhere (even two streets over). But LIFE happens where God has planted us (at a house in a neighborhood). So we can’t even dream of taking LIFE a few streets over, or a few communties over, or states even… you get the picture. When God plants the family, he plants LIFE in a place, surrounded by people that need exposure to His-kind-of gospel family!
All this is to journal the thought that, right now, after living in the Lehigh Valley for a year and now living in our new (old) house for a couple months – we are feeling the effect of a family plant (the thoughts of loneliness, being far from family, how’d we get here, etc. etc.) that we know must precede (and supercede) the church plant that will be coming over the next year.
Water the plant Jim, you’re the father and lover and caretaker of the plant in the soil in which it’s been planted.