Today is our last day in Massy (sob, sob). Our tiny studio is littered with bags and boxes, which we hope will all fit into our car… Gulp! Next up for packing is the computer, then get everything stowed away and off to the tunnel and Bromley!
Whilst out for a walk yesterday, part of which was along the Bievre river (in reality a stream) I noticed some turbulence on the surface of the water. To my surprise, even though the water is not that deep, there were shoals of tiny fish, just 5cm to 10cm long.
I watched a particular shoal for a while. Normally they sort of lay in a shallow depression in the stream bed. All of a sudden they would all dart forwards at high speed, for about a metre, then stop. A few seconds later they would all dart off again, back the way they had come, to their little depression in the stream bed. After a short while they would do it all again. And again. And again. And again…
There seemed to be no purpose to their little excursions whatsoever. And they all followed the shoal without question. Apart from one or two rebellious fish, that is.
You can see where I’m going with this, can’t you? Are you just darting here and there with the shoal, following everyone else, even though what everyone else is doing is achieving little or nothing for the Kingdom of God?
Or are you listening only for the guiding voice of the Holy Spirit? When you hear His voice, are you willing to swim off in obedience, in a different direction, even though all the other fish think you’re mad?
When we read the Bible, it’s very clear that God’s plans are often radically different to the plans which seem naturally sensible to men and women. It’s the rebellious crackpots (in the world’s eyes) who help to push the Kingdom of God forwards:
But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. (1 Corinthians 1:27-29, NIV)
I’m determined to keep swimming against the shoal and to see the Kingdom of God push forwards powerfully here in France. If that makes me a rebellious crackpot, so be it!
Joanna exited the bathroom in an excited state. She could hardly contain her joy. “The heating’s come on!” she exulted.
Like a very significant part of Massy, we are on the communal heating system, or chauffage collectif, which provides hot water and also heating. Except the heating is turned off in the Spring. As described earlier, the hot water goes off for about a week in August too, so they can clean the system. It’s all done through giant rubbish incinerators on the outskirts of town. Not a bad idea.
We naively thought that the heating would return sometime in September, probably in the middle of the month at the latest. Nope. OK, end of September then. Nope. To be fair, September was unseasonably warm and we didn’t need heating… but the last week or so has been getting chilly. We’re back in fleeces and jackets outdoors, after weeks and weeks of me in particular only wearing a T-shirt.
So the news of the arrival of the chauffage has indeed made our day beautifully frabjous 🙂
(The title is from from Jaberwocky by Lewis Carroll.)
We’ve had a really excellent weekend, God is so good.
On Saturday we spent the day with our lovely friends Doc & Carol on a day trip to Dourdan.
This mediaeval town is only a 35 minute bus ride from Massy, but is deep in the forested countryside. Click the picture below to enlarge it and practice your French with the town description!
For Joanna and I it was an encouraging time as this an example of exactly the type of small town in which we want to plant Churches. There was lots going on and so many potential opportunities to share the love of Jesus.
After a wander round, we had an excellent lunch at a very original and friendly little restaurant called Les Gens:
To work off our lunch we toured the Château and its museum.
Of course by then we needed tea and patisserie, which we found in a pleasant café in the main square. Aaaah.
Coincidentally, the preacher at our Church in the evening was our friend Bernard, who lives near Dourdan. We’re encouraging him to plant a Church there… 🙂 His helpful message was about patience.
This afternoon we visited Église Impulsion in Paris, where we had the thrill and joy of witnessing two young French people get baptised. The people were mostly in their twenties and thirties, with lots of visitors for the baptisms. There was a real sense of the presence of the Holy Spirit. After a very clear Gospel message, a number of people indicated they wanted to give their lives to Jesus, which was fantastic! We liked the relaxed, non-religious, warm and slightly disorganised, organic feel to the gathering. Praise God for all He is doing in France!
We received news yesterday that a dear friend went to be with Christ a few days ago. His long life (well over 90 years) was full and rich in unselfish service for the Kingdom of God.
I had the privilege of twice serving with Roy in leadership roles in our Church in London: once when we were both elders, and again when the Church was in a difficult time of transition.
He was always humble, calm, measured and loving in discussions. I’m afraid some of the rest of us (me included) were not always so calm! He always seemed able to see others’ points of view and was always willing to try his best to find a way forwards.
One of the things which amazed me was that his age (over 80 at those times) did not prevent him from being open to new ideas and new ways of doing things. Whilst always strongly holding to the Bible, he seemed to me to have a refreshingly loose hold on tradition.
I pray that God will help me to keep learning from Roy’s truly exceptional example. I’ll miss him, but am glad that he has been spared suffering and now has his reward.
Some themes from Paul’s letter to the Christians in Ephesus:
I’m a-living in the Spirit
In the rhythms of grace
‘Cause I am seated
In the Heavenly Place!
Consequences of being seated in heavenly places in Christ:
- There is no need to “enter in” to the presence of God: we are already there.
- God has seated us in those heavenly places, so why do we so often get up out of the seat and go walkabout?