By Faith, we have something! By sight, we do not!
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I'm really struggling to write an update about our situation today. Cause I don't really know what's happening, and what's going to happen. So maybe, writing to you all today is more for me. Maybe I need to process the whole situation by writing it down. And I don't really know yet what exactly I'll write. Let's just get into it, and we'll see what comes out in the end.
So, last Wednesday I shared with you all that "nothing was happening". And we started being a little bit panicky about it. Around half of the month was gone, and nothing seemed to be moving. Well, since then, A LOT has happened.
As part of the Theological Studies I am doing these days, I was studying "The Glory of God". And I realized that God is more committed to His own glory than He is to you and me. The point of creation was to bring Him glory. And that's the point why He made you and me: To bring Him the Glory He deserves. (I kind of knew that, but I think I sometimes got caught up in the "love relationship" part. Of course God is committed to the love relationship too. But ultimately, it's about His glory.)
So after doing that lesson, I started praying differently. And I started seeking God's glory in everything that was happening. Well, from there things started going crazy.
Thursday night we had nothing lined up. Friday night we had 4 appointments to visit places over the weekend and early this week. The first one was ... well, ... not great. The second one was stunning, and I so wanted that place. The agent actually showed us two places, a smaller one and a bigger one. There were only 2 people there. So I thought: "Done deal, each of us gets one, by the end of the day, we have an apartment." I loved both places, simply asked God to open the door.
Following morning I received a contract by email. All awesome. We did it. Except that the place was the bigger place, and it was beyond our budget. Asking back the agent, he said that the smaller one was taken. Now we tried to look for a way, thought about having the church at our place, and so by taking some of the church funds for our rent to make ends meet. But the more we thought about it, the less peace we had. The agent showed some signs of dishonesty and lack of integrity (Things he said verbally were not in the contract, the place that was advertised on the internet was not the place he offered us, etc). We would have had to commit to the place for at least 3 years. We talked with a few people (both here in Munich and in Shanghai). In the end, we just didn't sense that God was leading us to that place. It would have been a bit of a financial risk. And without God's peace, we didn't want to take that risk. So we had to say "no" to that one too. Short term it would have solved our problem. But we felt that long term, we would have deeply regretted that decision. We're at peace that we let go of that place, we're sure God did NOT want us to take it.
Then we visited another place on Saturday night. Ironically a Chinese family who owns the place. They'll be visiting Shanghai next month. Well, again, was a great place, we were on their shortlist, but in the end, they picked someone else.
So by the end of the weekend, we were again where we were before. Nothing concrete. Back to the internet, writing dozens of emails a day,... Fun!
So, Monday we then had doors opening again, and three apartment visits on Tuesday, and a forth one on Wednesday. The first one wasn't great, and we didn't get it. We weren't really too unhappy about that, that would have been more of a temporary apartment, while we're looking for the "real place". If possible, we'd like to avoid that.
Then I made a huge mistake on Tuesday afternoon: I double booked myself with two apartment visits at the same time (I guess I'm not really Germany anymore!? :-(). To solve the problem, Ryoko and the kids went to one, I went to the other. The place Ryoko visited was nice. Not great, but nice. A bit far, not too convenient to travel to/from the city. But we could live there for a year or two, settle in to our lives here first. And then look for the long term place, maybe next year. Wednesday morning I got a call from the agent, she said that they haven't decided yet, but so far, we're in the lead. So that MIGHT come through. I'll call this place "Place C" for now (You'll understand later).
Now it gets interesting: The place that I visited Tuesday night was PERFECT. It's really everything we dreamed of. Big, not too expensive, new, clean, has a kitchen, close to metro, rent would start August 01st,... The kicker was then simply this: It has a room in the basement that belongs exclusively to the apartment (Can be locked). When we talked about it at home, we could only think of one thing: "Church". We live upstairs, the room downstairs becomes a meeting room. We could hold services there (until we outgrow the place), overnight prayer meetings, Bible study groups,... It's 22 Squaremeters big, so we could easily use the place for a good number of people. We could set it up with projector, screen, sound system,... It's relatively sound proof, so we probably won't get problems holding meetings there until late night,... And wouldn't have to worry about renting am outside space or setup/tear down before/after every meeting. It's just a room exclusively dedicated for Aletheia. So church downstairs, and food and fellowship before/after church events upstairs. Couldn't think of a more perfect arrangement than this to start our church.
For obvious reasons, we call this one "Apartment A" for now. It's just perfect. And we feel that God is really in it, and He wants us to take that place. And we are praying accordingly several times each day.
The struggle here is: I handed in my application on Tuesday night, and I haven't heard back since. Not even an acknowledgement that the agent received it. I'm struggling whether I should call him, or whether I should just wait and let God work it out. And it's just so hard not knowing anything about "where things are at". Did they reject us? Are the evaluating, and we're still in the mix? Did they already decide in our favor, just didn't get around to calling us and informing us? It feels so #*&@%!(More on this place after the next paragraph).
So Wednesday we looked at another place. Again, it was pretty good. We could have seen ourselves living there for several years. Nice, warm, spacious, garden and playground area,... Really, really nice. The agent was very nice, basically telling us that "he'll suggest us to the landlord". (Ironically, the landlord now lives in Shanghai). Sounded like a done deal. If we want it, we can have it.
So we thought that we have a Plan B, in case Apartment A doesn't work out. So I'll call it Apartment B. That's how we went to bed last night. Really thought that "A would be ideal, but we have B and C as a backup". So we're done now, we can just pick between these three.
Then things started to get totally crazy. I woke up this morning getting some WeChat messages from a sister in Shanghai who shared a vision she got. She saw an apartment in Munich, and she saw Noah playing peacefully there. "A glimpse of heaven". Since we were having 3 possible apartments, I asked her some questions about "which of the 3 it might be". She couldn't answer. Thankfully we had a few pictures of the different places. Her reply: "I saw apartment A!" Wow!
So now we know which one God wants us to take. And we are pressing in in prayer on this place basically all the time.
Now one of the things I asked God was: "Please don't make us say 'no' to apartment B or C without having A first. I don't want B or C to be offered to us, and then we have to either take it (giving up on A) or reject it, with the possibility that we have no place at all again, in case A doesn't work out." Call it lack of Faith, but that was my prayer.
Well, God kind of answered that prayer. The landlord rejected us for Place B. The agent didn't tell us why, it doesn't make sense to us. The landlord actually rejected everybody, so the agent has to go out and look again. That was totally unexpected, cause yesterday sounded like "If you want it, you can have it."
So we're down to A and C. A is the place we know God wants us to have, but we haven't heard anything from the agent or the landlord for 48h. (Generally, not hearing anything is not a good sign. Many agents/landlords don't tell you "no", they just go silent. That's how you know they didn't pick you. Some tell you that it's a "no", but many don't.) It's been "only" 48h, so it's very possible that they are still deciding. But emotionally, we're basically sitting at our phone and email from morning until night. Every email that comes in, every phone call we get, there's always this feeling of "Is this it?" Just to realize that it's someone else calling.
We know what God's will is. He made that very clear. The vision the sister in Shanghai had was such a supernatural confirmation. But the waiting isn't easy.
So ... that's where we are at. Appreciate if you could pray with us for Place A. Not sure what's holding it back. But in all of this, we just pray that God's will be done.
So by Faith, we do have a place. By sight, we are still very unsure about where we'll be 2 weeks from now.
We realized that there's a different kind of Faith that is tested in such situations. Situations when there's no "Plan B". Yes, we should seek God first in everything. And very often we do our best. But very often we have a Plan B. ("I feel God is leading me to change my job, but if I don't get that one, I can still continue working for my current employer" or "I feel God wants me to help in this ministry. But if I don't feel comfortable, then I can stop serving there again after a month") And there's nothing wrong with "trying something to see if it's God's will". We all do that on a regular basis.
But it's a total different story when you don't have a Plan B. For example, Israel entering the promised land. They faced the challenge that "either God is Faithful to His Word, or we'll all die in battle". Gideon faced a similar situation when fighting a seemingly hopeless fight against the Medianites. David faced the same situation against Goliath (Either God is Faithful or I'll be dead.). In the OT, it was often about battles.But we face similar challenges. And sometimes God purposely brings us in situations where there's no Plan B. Either God is Faithful, or we suffer severly. Nothing in between. But it's in those situations that God does the greatest miracles. And (coming back to the topic I started with), it's in those "God is Faithful, or else it'll be absolutely devastating and terrible" that God gets the greatest possible Glory.
It all makes sense. Everything we went through concerning apartment hunting over the last month WILL make perfect sense. IF we get Place A. But only if. If not, then I really don't know how I would respond.
So,... that's our update for this week. Appreciate your prayers to bring us through this season.
Thank you very much.
In Christ's love,
Bernd, Ryoko, Anna, Noah and Abigail
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