Random Ramblings

Reflections on my walk with God


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Trust, Wait, Rest, Work

10 years ago I walked into a church for the first time in many, many years. At this time I had never “read” the Bible. Being brought up as a good Catholic girl, I was familiar with the new testament – well maybe not all the letters or revelation – and had a passing acquaintance with the main OT stories, but had not read most of the Pentateuch or Psalms, or Proverbs, etc

It was daunting to say the least. With my pastor’s support (massive thanks to him) and a “Read the Bible in a year” guide (given to me by my church) I got started. Took me over 3 years ….. (more on that later).

Certain words grabbed my attention as I started to read. The first of these was “Trust“…..

Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

In the amplified Bible this verse conveys anticipation:
Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.

But I struggled with this – what did it mean to trust in God? I am a scientist by nature and I trust that which I can see materially or have empirical evidence for. By nature God is unknown and unknowable.

I contemplated trust whilst I ploughed through the Deuteronomy, Numbers, Leviticus – trying not to fall asleep over my Bible.

My next “instruction” was to wait exemplified by one of my favourite Bible verses, Isaiah 40:31.

Yet those who wait for the Lord Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.

The amplified Bible again conveys the idea of anticipation and also that waiting is not passive:
But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired.

While I was still trying to get my head around trusting and waiting my next word was given – Rest.  This seemed like a great idea – lean back against the Lord and just chill out, or maybe not. Another favourite verse comes to mind many, many times when I feel in need of rest, Matthew 11:28:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

However, Matthew 11:29-30 goes on ..

Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

The Amplified Bible does not suggest stopping all activity, we are to take up the “yoke” that Jesus gives us, in the knowledge that He will enable us to carry it.
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.] Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls.

In other contexts a resting place is very much envisaged as a place of reward from righteous labour.

Isaiah 11:10:
In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious.

Isaiah 30:15:
This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.

My final word in the sequence was Work. at this point it started to make sense. Before I could work for the Lord I needed to understand what He wanted me to work at. This required being still, listening to Him, resting in His presence and trusting Him to lead me on the right path.

Work is something that we are all called to do. In Genesis 2:15 God “put him [Adam] into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.”  We are made Imago Deo – in God’s image – our work is thus a reflection of His work as is our rest.

5 years ago I had a period of prolonged illness which forced me to do nothing for most of the day (rest) – that was when I finished “the Bible in a year”. I learned that resting in God was truly not passive, it was a time of enormous growth in my Faith.

I see these words as a cycle in my growth. At any time I may be in a place where I really need to just trust even though I can’t see where I’m being lead! I may need to wait for instruction or to rest and learn in His presence (like Mary), or to get to work (like Martha).


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Reasoning not Ranting

“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord , “Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool” (Isaiah 1:18 NASB )

Many people cannot “get their heads round” me being a scientist and a born again Christian. They assume that any religious person must be irrational and foolish. My background includes biochemistry, and cell & developmental biology although I have been teaching in an F.E. college for over 16 years. I have always been particularly interested in the organisation and functioning of cells. During my pregnancy (before I was reborn myself) I remember being in constant state of wonder at the new life that was growing in me. Each day I would look up the stages to see what the baby would look like ( yes, she was a baby to me right from the start). I did not have amniocentesis, as advised due to my age, we both knew that this child was a gift and we loved her ….. Before I had read the Psalms, I knew that she was “fearfully and wonderfully made”.

As I learn more about life and the universe and how all things are intricately woven together, it is more than enough to convince me that there is a Creator. However, I know that for many of my family, friends, colleagues, students etc. believing God is simply not something that they can even start to comprehend. Just this week I had an incredulous student ask if I believed in God. We were talking about DNA and proteins, they are truly mutually dependent molecules giving the classic “chicken and egg ” scenario. I carefully explained that there are no mechanisms known that can explain how these complex molecules arose, and invited him to have coffee with me sometime to talk in more depth….something I always when challenged on my faith….

Because I have often felt inadequate to answer some of these questions the last year or so I have started a journey to educate myself in apologetics. To help me to be “prepared to make a defence to anyone who asks [me] for a reason for the hope that is in [me]; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when [I am] slandered, those who revile [my] good behaviour in Christ may be put to shame“. (1 Peter 3:14-16)

I have read many commentaries and blogs. Some are well thought out and obviously written by a person who is deeply steeped in the Word. Others are less so. And then there are the rants – it’s like being yelled at from the page. The worst offenders, of course, are the trolls ranting in the comments box. The “new atheists” are often particularly vitriolic in their mission to convert all of us foolish believers. However, the “Christians” are often no better. Look at any article that is even a tiny bit atheistic and there are always hell fire and brimstone rants amongst the comments.

It is too tempting to have a rant at some of the verbiage that people spew out. But it has never seemed right to right to me to “yell” back:
“Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either”. (Luke 6:29)

As mature Christians it is essential that we engage our brains before opening our mouths or tapping onto our keyboards. As James tells us:
“So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. “(James 3:5-10)

There are so many scripture passages that I could quote but here are another couple which I think are particularly relevant:
“See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone”. (1 Thessalonians 5:15)

He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself, And he who reproves a wicked man gets insults for himself. Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you, Reprove a wise man and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man and he will be still wiser, Teach a righteous man and he will increase his learning. (Proverbs 9:7-9)

Whilst we should always be ready to answer questions about our faith, we don’t need to defend God.


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Joy

I just had a look at a draft I started last summer….

“Had a joy-filled week

Wed – kids F.E.

Fri- H.E.

Joy – gift of God

Grace

Wow!!!”

Looking at that collection of thoughts I’m trying to remember the sequence of events and recall the joy!  At this time of year it is so easy to lose the joy in the doldrums of January.  In the summer when I wrote the draft above I was at the end of the college year – it was manic in work – too much to do and no time to do it. I had committed to attending the Further Education and Higher Education Award ceremonies for the college and really did not feel that I could spare the time.  I was so glad that I had gone. It was joy to see the young people receiving their awards – and to celebrate their success knowing that I had helped a few of them along the way.  I even conferred a degree on a young woman who I had known and prayed for, for 5 years, I was so proud of her achievement – gained in spite of many problems. I remember writing on FB that it was times like these that made being a teacher worth while and put all the late night marking sessions into perspective…..

Here I am at the beginning of a new term, back to marking work late into the night and wondering is it all worth it? I look at the notes above and think  “Yes it is!”

So many times I have wondered if I am in the right place – am I where God wants me to be? I have come to love the young people I teach – they challenge me, frustrate me, make me laugh and sometimes bring me joy!  Each year a new set of young people; each year a new set of problems. By the end of each year my tutor group have become like adopted children to me. Each year I want to “fix” them, to help them to sort out their lives. When they leave I am sad and pray that they will succeed in life.

When work gets frustrating and stressful I have to remember the joy, and hope that the prayers that I sometimes lift (not often enough) will be answered. I pray that these children of mine will grow up to be mature men and women who not only contribute to society, but who will one day seek the God who sent them to me, and know the joy of being His adopted sons and daughters.