About the whole truth: stories for when you are impatient.

Our last house sold quicker than expected.


We hadn’t found a new house so, not wanting to lose our buyer, we decided to move into a rental house.

For some reason, this proved almost impossible.

After false starts too countless to mention, finally we found a place to rent that was okay. Big enough for me and Matt and the three kids, not going to break the bank, in a nice street, with some outside space. Unfortunately the previous tenants had left the place in a mess, but the estate agent assured me that it would all be fixed up in time for moving day.

Despite repeated phone calls, with a week to go nothing had changed. The house was still filthy, the kitchen and bathroom not useable. Three days to go and still no change; no shower in the bathroom, and no cleaning had taken place in the kitchen.

One day to go, and with boxes packed and curtains taken down, we pulled out of the rental agreement.

We were moving the next day and had nowhere to go.

I had been at my parents house the previous weekend, frustrated that it wasn’t working out. I had been slamming the estate agents, slamming the previous tenants, slamming our house buyers, and slamming God. I justified my position – had I not already been flexible? I had agreed to rent and not move straight into our own house, I had compromised (on my agenda) and yet God didn’t seem to care about my feelings of insecurity. It appeared He didn’t give a monkeys about where we were going to sleep the following weekend.

My Mum reassured me, “God is never late love. Rarely early, but never late”.

Even in my frustration I had believed that there would be a last minute miracle, things would suddenly turn around, a house would appear from the ether.

But now here we were the day before we had to leave our house with nowhere to go.


I phoned my Mum, desperate. She agreed we could come and stay with them for a couple of weeks. One of the lodgers was away and so she had the space.

Instead of being grateful I was spitting feathers. Where was God when I needed him? I couldn’t understand why things were not happening according to my timescales. Why God wasn’t smoothing the way for us. Did he not know about my fragile mental health? Or that I had three children, one of whom was still just a little one?

It seemed He was pretty late to me.

(It is possible I may have overreacted just a tiny bit.)

Since writing an anniversary of honesty, I have been thinking about how we can become impatient.

I become impatient.

When things don’t turn out as I hope and I am in pain, my focus narrows really quickly. My present circumstances become like weights shackled to my ankles, I cannot escape them. Perspective disappears out of the window. It becomes easy to give up on hope.

I want things resolved soon.

Like, yesterday.

It is hard to wait. It is hard to have prayers remain unanswered. To not have the testimony with the Hollywood ending.

Because these are the stories we like. The ones with the sheen of success.

I was raised on stories of the miraculous. Christian books that told of God’s goodness being revealed in practical ways around the world. The books of personal testimony showcasing how God has used one individual or another, how they were born for such a time as this, how they had changed a situation or a nation. And these stories have been archived in my mind under “God shows up for people he loves and are obedient”.


This theme continued in my often naive and childish reading of the Bible.

Instead of reading of the epic complexities as the tapestry of generations are revealed, if I am not careful I can dilute the narrative. I reduce it to a  child’s drawing. I read the headlines, the top line of the story and skip through to the happy ending. I see it as an equation; Godly men and women + supernatural intervention = Things working out.

But, it is dangerous to only tell these parts of the story.

Because there are also lots of stories of people being promised something, and never seeing the fulfilment in their lifetime, of people being misunderstood, of having to accept suffering and pain, of never being healed, of dying without receiving what they were promised.

The older I get, the more I realise that God’s timing is different to my timing. He is working out His story over a vast time line. Over the course of decades and millennia. Through generations and across nations. In ways that are far beyond my human understanding. His purpose is not bound by my timescales.

The story of the People of God gains significance as the years in their hundreds pass by. It is in the grand sweep of the narrative that a God who stands outside of time is revealed. One prophet prophecies and a couple of hundred years pass before we see the fulfilment in scripture. God speaks to Abraham about his descendants being like the sand on the seashore, and now, thousands of years later, we can see this to be true as followers of Jesus, descendants of Abraham, number into the millions.

We understand these stories now, with the benefit of hindsight, the security of a book to read them in, and centuries of Christian understanding. And from this vantage point, it can be tempting to skim the epic tale and focus on the highlights. If we are not careful it can look like it was all was hunky dory, like every story ended ‘happily ever after’.

We have an obligation to truth. To remember. We need to tell the parts of the story that we have been trying to brush under the carpet. We need to stop pretending that David was always confident he could kill Goliath, Mary always knew Jesus would defeat death and Paul always knew his chains would fall off. We need to look again at these men and women whom we have mythologised. We must put skin on their bones and blood in their veins, and imagine how it felt, the doubt as well as the hope, the fear as well as the faith.

We must not skip through the chapters of waiting and misunderstanding to get to the ones where we win. Where the Israelites blow their trumpets and Jericho’s walls fall down.

I’m wondering if we are ever going to understand our place in this lineage of grace, if perhaps we have to see, acknowledge, maybe even attempt to welcome, the years of not-knowing, the decades of promises un-fulfilled. We have to see the stories of those who died still believing, even though they never saw the fulfilment of God’s word to them. And we have to tell each other these stories. To encourage, to provide bread for the journey. To remind ourselves that even when in our moment, right here and now, when we don’t understand and can’t see, that there is grace for us, and hope for the future.

And it is only then that we can begin to understand our part in this most epic of rescue stories.

And finally:

I know my story of house moving is silly and inconsequential. Of course we found somewhere to live, I am sitting in my lounge now writing this.


But there are other ‘whys’ that I cannot give a neat resolution to. I don’t know why certain relationships have turned out the way they have. I don’t know why tragedy has struck, why people close to me have to deal with guilt or fear or grief or financial struggles or illness on a daily basis. And I don’t know if I will ever know.

I need to hear about ‘heroes of the faith’, and how they despaired and didn’t always see the answer unfold before them.

For every parting of the Red Sea, give me a story of 40 years wandering in the wilderness. Give me a shipwreck, an attack, a story of infertility, a story of pain. And don’t tie a red ribbon at the end and resolve its complexities.

Life is complicated.

I need to know I am in good company.


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