Joy seeps out my pores.
And I start to head down the M40 back to home. Driving. Through the rain, through the traffic. And I am buzzing. What has become of me? What has become of my life. I’m pretty sure no university application filled out all those years ago could have brought me to here. I was never going to be a college drop out statistic that was slammed down my throat by all those good intentioned teachers. I was to be more. Because God has always wanted more.
Risk. and I hear it in the background through the music, “The same power that conquered the grave, lives in me.” And that is what He has done, raised this once dead heart to life. And as I continue to lay down, He continues to raise up. So I get low, and stay low. And the gospel is for people that are low, people that recognise the need for a Saviour. God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble and he lifts up all those who are bowed down. So I stay low. Remain low, because I never want to be cut off from grace.
and so I started this weekly style of learning two weeks ago, heading to the Birmingham Campus for the day with students from across the country. To complete a degree that I never wanted to do. Only a strong act of obedience and a stubbornness has kept me in the academic game. And champions. People who have championed me through these past 5 years. How many emotional walls I’ve hit in the Sargeant’s kitchen or meltdowns that the Lothamer had to be on the other end of the phone listening to. And I’ve quite the study 1,000 times in my head, but my heart always won. Yes, it will have taken me just under six years to complete a 3 year degree. I’m not interested in diplomas next to a name that can somehow make me out to be someone I am not. I am interested in attempting to understand my life’s mission and to help others find theirs. And when we do this together, with diversity but unity, beautiful things, heavenly things start to invade this harsh reality of a world we all exist in. This is the church that I see and yearn to be a part of. A church that chooses to actively respond to Hope and the laying down of life to offer life and Hope to another. And then the others choose to join the family and together we become one. And this is a picture of God using His people to bring the message of reconciliation to the world and bringing them home.
So we are one around this classroom table today. Meeting with people connected to my past, present, and my soon to be future. People from all around the world, with different language, backgrounds, stories, theological perspectives and different applied theologies. What unites us here? What brings us together from the corners of the earth?
To equip. To equip the saints to do good works in order for that familiar line in the Lord’s prayer to come to be, “Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” And so we we listen, and we debate, and we take notes, and allow our hearts to be confronted, challenged, and changed and it’s uncomfortable. And this is what it’s about, this Christian life, transformation.
The subjects of study are pointed and very specific for the season. My heart bleeds gospel, the good news, the news that can alter a life and someone’s eternal destiny. And we dive into the pages of Gospel Literature & Mission first thing and we look at Parallels between Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and as we read, we discover a fuller picture of this message of Jesus. Of our Jesus. We then moved to Pauline Literature and Mission where we see how Paul had a deep love for his Christ and for people and was able to connect one with the other in terms, language, communication, gestures, that got the message over. And He was determined, and he was urgent, bold, and risky. And Paul had an intentionality about him and movements that followed him. All for the name and glory of knowing Christ.
The day finished with Keith. He teaches us about the Godhead, the Trinity with such passion and conviction that I am so drawn to him as he stands before me and communicates. His love is contagious. And he takes on a journey of how the Holy Spirit appears and takes shape from the Old Testament to the New and how the presence of God that came through power and revelation, that once resided in a wooden box, started to come by filling people, and leading people. And then we move to Acts and the emphasis is on how the Holy Spirit now lives and resides in us. That we are carriers of the presence of God wherever we step foot, whatever places and spaces we find ourselves in. Even as I type this at Starbucks at a rest stop, after ordering my drink, I realise that I am bring the presence of God here, just by being here. It’s amazing that purpose and mission are everywhere, it exists within the very DNA under our skin.
The need to finish preparing for Sunday’s sermon can wait. The wedding plans, the dissertation interviews and reading, the plans for moving house, the desire of leaving a church well and urgency to get on and write 5,000 words in papers can wait right now. In the midst of the business, of the chaos, and failing to remember what I did last week or yesterday, I want to be alive to the moment and bring it back to what is important. I want to take the moment to worship, to be thankful, to bring to mind all of His goodness, undeserved and yet still bestowed on thee. To Pause, to Rest.
To know Christ. To ginosko. To intimately experience Him. To take this moment and breathe it in. That’s what it’s all really about.
The sun is out, the rain has faded. And this is what this moment has been for me.
A Rest Stop.