Be all there!

As life begins to get a little bit busier here and the weeks go faster, I am delighted as I am getting into a routine and I LOVE routine. Apparently I am 29 going on 79 – spontaneity is overrated! There is nothing like organised, planned fun. However I digress.

Amongst all of the challenges I have encountered and opportunities I have been given since I’ve arrived, these words of Jim Elliot have constantly been on my mind:

“Wherever you are, be all there! Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.”

Now, I am about to get somewhat personal and for those of you who know me please rest assured I am not feeling unwell, but sometimes needs must.

I admit it. I have been missing my life in Newcastle. I miss my friends, I miss my church and I miss my work. (I also REALLY miss the coffee shops, but that is a topic for a whole other blog… ‘coffee shop crawls’ being one of my hobbies.)

Last weekend, at a bible study day, I was reminded by a lady that God puts us in a place for a reason. I have a choice – either I can complain and ask God why I am here or I can ask God what he wants me to do for Him here and now. Living the life of a disciple of Jesus Christ means that I sacrifice ALL – even plans that are good – good plans that I have for Him. Yet, that’s exactly the problem – they are my plans and God wants to use me in His plan.

Do things make any more sense five weeks in? No, not really. However this is where I belong for now and where God is moulding me into that tool for His service – what right have I to question Him? (Isaiah 45:9)

So let me tell you about some of the moulding process so far…

  1. Last week I walked into class and there was a flannel graph in the room. I mean, need I say more?! Who needs an interactive white board when you can have a flannel graph?! I never thought I would say this, but I am really LOVING the Children’s Ministries module.
  2. I played ‘Toilet Tig’ at my children’s placement AND it was best fun. What a privilege to tell ‘the coming generation… the wonders He has done’. (Psalm 78:4)
  3. I’ve seen such amazing commitment and dedication within my church family – they are truly being all for God wherever they are!
  4. I’ve started a module called ‘Old Testament Survey’, otherwise known as ‘I can’t believe I have been a Christian for 15 years and don’t know half (any) of this’.
  5. I’ve discussed the Shekinah Glory in the bathroom and compared the packing of the tabernacle to a Duke of Edinburgh expedition.
  6. I’ve been introduced to Marmite. Important life lesson – DO NOT spread it like Nutella. Otherwise you will most definitely fall into the ‘hate it’ camp. The ‘love it’ camp will not be open to you… EVER.
  7. I’ve learned some Italian phrases for our mission awareness trip in a couple of weeks. Duolingo (other apps are available) has ‘usefully’ taught me the words for ‘man’,’woman’, ‘boy’ and ‘girl’, but not for ‘hello’. So I’m confident in my ability to distinguish between male and female, but surely starting a conversation with ‘hello’ would be more socially acceptable (and let’s face it… a little less weird)?
  8. I also started my social placement this week. Having just been studying the book of Luke and seeing that one of the main themes is that the Lord Jesus spent time with those on the fringes of society, this placement has really challenged me. The Lord came ‘to seek and to save the lost’ (Luke 19:10) and I am called to love them as He did.

As week six begins I know the moulding process of this year has only just begun – I can feel my comfort zone being stretched already! However I will leave you with the words of Oswald Chambers, which I believe sum up what my attitude must be over the coming weeks and months:

“Wherever the providence of God may dump us down, in a slum, in a shop, in the desert, we have to labour along the line of His direction. Never allow this thought – “I am no use where I am,” because you certainly can be of no use where you are not! Wherever He has engineered your circumstances, pray.”

 

 

 

This doesn’t make sense…

 

I’ve been challenged by the life of Abraham recently. He went when God called him. He believed when God said He would show him the land – what faith! Yet it must have made no sense to him at all.

For me, coming to Bible College has felt a bit like that… obeying when it doesn’t seem to make sense. I hasten to add that I am in no way comparing myself to Abraham. My ‘Jonah moments’, up until this point, have far outweighed my ‘Abraham moments’. However here I am… sitting at a desk as a student again with the thought, ‘what on earth am I doing?!’ flying through my mind every so often!

So what am I doing?

  1. I’ve been ‘Learning to Learn’ again. Having finished university six years ago, it has been very helpful to be reminded of the purpose of a footnote, a bibliography and mind maps (personally I prefer a list; some of you will not be surprised to read). The inner geek in me is very much looking forward to my studies.
  2. Bible verse memorisation is on the cards as well… little cards that you can keep in your bible, under your pillow or in your pocket and whip out at the dinner table to test your fellow students (or make them feel spiritually inferior, depending on how Christian you are feeling that day).
  3. I’ve learned the value of having a great church family and how this really helps you feel at home in a new place, even though I’ve only been here for a couple of weeks. The only downside is that most of them seem to be called either Jim or Margaret, which could be somewhat problematic.
  4. I’ve been reminded by my church family that my strength is in the Lord – Psalm 121.
  5. I’ve learned that the Northern Irish accent even causes our Celtic cousins some difficulties. The other day I asked a gentleman on the street if he could point me in the direction of ASDA. A fairly simple question you may think. Alas, no. He thought I was looking for ‘Alistair’. Thankfully one of my fellow classmates, being a native, was able to translate for me. Life is difficult… so it is. I did find ASDA, but the illusive Alistair remains at large.
  6. I’ve had the privilege of learning how God has worked in the lives of each of my classmates, as we share our testimonies with each other during morning devotions.
  7. I’ve been given a ‘big picture’ overview of the Bible (it’s a pretty great book) and learned that Acts was written before Luke… who knew?!
  8. I’ve met those who have a heart for seeing teenagers come to know the Lord – their sacrificial attitude has really challenged me.

I think eight learning points is more than enough for now. I wouldn’t want my old housemates to think their teaching profession had influenced me in any way – a big shout out to you both!

As week three begins, many things still don’t make sense, but I have a God who has told me to, ‘Be strong and courageous and DO IT…’ (1 Chronicles 28 v 20). So I guess I’d better obey.