Our church celebrated its second birthday at the end of March. What a joyous celebration and a time to look back on the blessings that God has richly provided each step of the way on this planting
journey. We have welcomed new people and farewelled others. We have tried new things. We have
started new ministries and made plans for the future. And now we are waiting patiently for a
building to be built.
I celebrated my fortieth birthday last year. I don’t think I ever really got the big deal about this
significant birthday. I wasn’t sure why people would weep and wail and look panic stricken by the
thought of just another birthday. Wouldn’t you just feel all grown up by then? It all seemed so far
away. And then it was here. I didn’t have a major meltdown or have to be sedated, but it did all start
to make sense. I did actually experience the ‘taking stock’ and ‘reflecting on your life’ that descends
upon you when you have a significant birthday. I knew that I definitely did not feel old enough to be
forty, but at the same time, I knew that this milestone marked a bit of a turning point.
I am pretty sure that I had assumed that by the time I turned 40 I would be a more mature Christian.
I thought that I would have it together more, be more disciplined and have conquered some of those
niggling sins. And even though I wasn’t counting on it, I probably thought that we would be more
financially secure. In fact, before we became church planters, I had dreamed of a trip to Europe to
celebrate my birthday. Needless to say, that dream will have to remain a dream for a while to come.
As I have reflected over the past, and waded through my emotions, there have been a few things
that have stood out. I am not as good as I would like to be at forming and maintaining friendships. I
still struggle with contentment. My contentment tends to eb and flow and I go through seasons of
feeling more and less content with where God has placed me, what he has provided and how he has
made me. And I can tend to neglect my spiritual needs and that leads me to feel that I am being
sucked dry by constantly giving to others. See? Turning forty makes you take stock and think about
who you are and where you could do with some spiritual fine tuning.
I do still feel bombarded by the world’s assumptions about work, career, financial security and
status. But it seems like over the past two years God has been shaping me to be able to take
people’s assumptions about women, about work and about me and to sigh and move on. I know
better how to explain that my husband and I have moved to this new area to start a new church and
that I work from home and do lots of volunteer work. I have recently decided to get back into
teaching as a casual this year. I feel blessed and see that this could be another great opportunity for
ministry. Even though it’s scary.
I don’t feel grown up. I still lose it over messes made by my family. Sometimes I look at my children
and think ‘What exactly do you want from me in this situation? I have no idea what I am doing!’ But
maybe there are things that I have learned to let go of. And even though I am not in control of this
patchwork life that God is quilting together for me, I am pretty happy to keep heading in the
direction that he is taking me. At the ripe old age of forty, God is still working on me and he is giving
me lots of opportunities for patience and lots of opportunities to learn how to be content. Here’s to
many more birthdays for me and for our church. Church planting is not for the feint hearted, but I
don’t want to be doing anything else.
– Rachel Collins