we just moved to san diego. it’s a very lovely place, but we are still feeling pretty unsettled.

we are getting to know our new church community. the church we just left has been struggling through about two years of pretty intense conflict – two factions are warring over the church property and there were numerous court dates, injunctions, and restraining orders over the last several months. but for all of the insanity, we still miss the people with whom we journeyed together over the last couple of years.

one of the hardest transitions to make is for our daughter. since we left in the middle of the school year, she hasn’t been able to enroll in a new preschool program – and she loves school. even at church, it is a scary prospect to meet and get to know a whole new set of friends. i realized how difficult it was for her when she couldn’t sleep one recent saturday night. when i sat down to talk to her, she told me through her tears that she didn’t want to go to our new church, that it was hard making friends. more than any of the typical church nonsense, these are the things that make me wonder if ministry as a vocation is worth all of the sacrifices.

things are looking up, though. yesterday, our daughter had her first playdate with a friend – the senior pastor’s daughter. my wife was sharing about how much fun they had – they even baked cookies! our senior pastor’s daughter is quite energetic – a very adventurous sort, and almost two years older than our daughter. apparently, she was climbing over a playpen and our daughter followed (despite mommy’s warnings). in the process our daughter took a pretty nasty spill. after some tears and some hugs from mommy, she was fine.

later that day, when i sat down with our daughter, i tried to explain how important it is to be careful – especially when mommy tells her something is dangerous. i told her how sometimes people fall down on their heads, and then they can’t walk anymore – and sometimes, they can’t even use their arms.

my daughter’s eyes grew wide. her three-year old mind was processing the severity of this news, and she agreed to be more careful in the future. and then she looked at me and said, “jesus’ friend couldn’t walk, but then jesus made him feel better.”

it took me a minute to respond to her. i was so glad that my daughter remembered and believed her bible stories (she thinks it’s really funny, and kind of rude, that four friends made a hole in someone else’s roof to bring their friend to jesus) but worried about how to respond. i wanted to nurture her faith that jesus can do anything, but not give her an unrealistic expectation of how God works in the world (“yeah, go ahead and jump off that bridge – God will catch you”). this is something i’ve struggled with – how to believe in a God of miracles, signs and wonders without turning into a hopped-up televangelist…

i approached my answer in as delicate a way as i could, not wanting to mess up her faith. i explained that God is able to help hurting people, but that sometimes people still get hurt really bad. fortunately, i didn’t have to consult “when bad things happen to good people.” she agreed with me that the best thing would probably be just to be as careful as possible in the future.