In 2011 when I first started going along to Bible Study Fellowship, a global in depth bible study, they were delving into Isaiah. In the welcome they rattled off the ten years they had on offer and what you would be unpacking if you stuck around. As Roman’s was mentioned I whispered to God that I would love to be around for that. In my mind I was thinking I would stick around for Isaiah and if Roman’s could follow that would be ideal. I had no clue that as 2018 dawns I would still be around and this was the year we would finally get stuck into Roman’s. I count it a great privilege to be able to study alongside and even to be able to teach, lead and train, to be apart of a study where there are hundreds of thousands all over the world; men, women, kids of many nations and generations gleaning the truths of God. To say I am excited for what lies ahead in the year is an understatement.
Over the Christmas break we had the pleasure of being in the States to see family and friends, explore new places and just hang out as a couple. In the mix of that was a very special time with our old youth pastor friends and to see their daughter get married and start a new chapter in life. We loved getting to know the extended family, the hilarity and great talks was such a highlight. What struck me was how many of them were BSF goers. And being in the States they are on schedule A which means they are already well into the year of Romans, in fact at the time they were at chapter 8. The things they had to share made me even more excited to get home and get stuck in.
Weeks after that time I was back to reality and found myself sitting in the car with my friend, who also happens to be the teaching leader for our class who I am a sub for. We were waiting on a meeting at a church for a satellite class starting this year. As we waited we talked about the study of Romans, how we viewed it, what we expected of it and why I was so excited and this had been the one I’d been waiting on all this time. I love there is the balance of a fallen world and God’s answer to it, that there are guidelines and tips, all with His great love and backbone underpinning it. I love that I get to be fine tuned and grown. I love that others get to experience that too. And I love seeing God’s fingerprints over all. He saw to it that I was still around for what I wanted, but at just the right time and crazily enough in the role I am for it which sees me get to go even deeper and glean ever more.
There is nothing about God that is an accident. There is nothing about doing life with Him that is haphazard. I think sometimes the longer you have been walking with God, the longer you have been a work in progress you can get a bit smug and feel like you should get a pat on the back or a gold star sticker on the invisible chart. Then something happens to pull you back to reality and cling to Him all the more. Let me share such a moment with you.
On Christmas Day we were lunching with Brett’s family with our bags in the boot ready for the airport afterwards. I was having all kinds of chats with all kinds of people and while I wasn’t aware of it there was a sense of ‘yep, we are doing well at living life and in a good place’. I hadn’t realised it but on the plane I was feeling a bit chuffed and reflecting on various things.
As we got to the Auckland airport a glitch in their system saw us standing in a line of many waiting for the fix, through security and waiting by the gate. On the plane we had an unfortunate seating arrangement. After a transit in Houston, another unfortunate seating arrangement and yet more unwanted turbulence for most of the flight before we landed in NY. Both of us were weary but so excited to soon be seeing my Aunty and her family. The mishaps weren’t over just yet though as we were the last standing by the baggage claim, only to have it turned off, seeing us without the bag containing all our warm clothes. Not to worry, what really mattered was the company and time about to be had. Plus the bonus of that being the only time it’s ever happened to us, and the timeliness of being able to borrow my Aunty’s spare pj’s till our bag arrived at the end of the next day.
At the end of the fun had with them, and the unprecedented cold snap that saw the pretty snow fall on our last day we were headed to the airport once more to catch our flight to Vancouver. That morning I’d woken with a headache, my body aching and sore throat, feeling like I was about to come down with something rotten. I didn’t say a word though as I just really wanted it to go away and not be the case. Only when we got to the airport to be greeted by a lady who was unhelpful and hard to understand and who couldn’t understand us the wheels wobbled. Due to blocked ears I spoke far too loudly as I complained to Brett about the situation and got myself royally worked up over it all. I apologised to him, of course, but the gunk of what was sat with me.
Days ticked by and I still felt so embarrassed at my behaviour. Sure one could try to excuse it and minimise it given the experience from NZ to NY and my wish to avoid that, my not feeling well and the lady being anything but helpful in her role to assist. However none of that mattered, none of that made MY rudeness acceptable or tolerable and so the embarrassment sat with me. Then that festered as satan whispered, “how can YOU possibly be the substitute teaching leader for such a year, aren’t you meant to be mature and have it all together? You thought you were doing so well and growing but clearly not after this episode, like a snakes and ladders game a big fail on your part” The good news is that before satan could get too much momentum we were sitting in church the day after the wedding and our old youth pastor was speaking from Philippians 4…being anxious for nothing, by prayer and thanksgiving bring all to God, dwelling on what is true, right, pure.
I weighed things up. Yes my behaviour was far from acceptable. But the reality is we are all a work in progress and despite being a leader you don’t have it all together. In fact by having these real life moments you can use it to draw all the closer to God. And so yes, I am very much excited for the book of Roman’s to be tweaked and grown as I’m clearly very needy, to be encouraged and challenged as we delve deep and to be standing where God has called me and be real in that.
In your gold star moments, in the bottom of the snakes and ladders board you can see God’s fingerprints for you. You can see His love remains in the ups and downs. And I can be thankful my man’s does too. I for one am looking forward to this year for so many reasons and I am so immensely grateful for a God who does real and works with real. How about you?