30th January- 5th February
This week one of our friends decided that she wanted an eternal relationship with Christ! After a few months of hanging out with us, meeting up with Liv one-to-one and coming occasionally to Bible study, she decided that Jesus was all she needed and all she wanted. She came to realise that despite all of our brokenness and sinfulness, all the baggage in her life, was forgivable and that there is pure joy and freedom in Jesus. She decided that despite the fact that she still had questions, Jesus’ death and resurrection were undeniable and to wonderful to ignore. So she prayed with us, and we are rejoicing with the angels!
She’s since gone home since it is the end of her semester here and has signed up for an Alpha course and we’re praying that God raises up people to encourage her, challenge her, and walk with her as she continues to explore Christ and grow in the Lord. Please pray for her too, and praise God that He has so wonderfully worked in her.
Luke 15:8-10 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
6th – 12th February
I’ve been thinking a lot about repentance this week. I prayed that God would reveal more of my sin to me (always a dangerous prayer) and He’s been reminding me of my pride. I had a really excellent chat with my supervisor, thinking specifically about motivations for sin and some of the deeper idols behind pride. C. S. Lewis wrote about pride a fair bit in ‘Mere Christianity’, and incredibly scathingly:
“The vice I am talking of is Pride or Self-Conceit: and the virtue opposite to it, in Christian morals, is called Humility…According to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere flea bites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.”
The more I think about my pride the more wicked it becomes and the more I see it infect so much of my life. But praise God that we can still humble ourselves as we see what we are really like before Him! And praise God that He knows already and loves us as we are! And praise God that He doesn’t leave us in this depraved way, but makes us more and more like His Son as we pursue Him! Praise God!
James 4:6-10 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
“God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.”
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
13th – 19th February
This week I was drastically reminded of how great God’s goodness and love for us is, when my boyfriend came and surprised me on Valentine’s Day. He was in Germany with his family and I had booked some time off to see him in a couple of weeks, so it didn’t really occur to me that he might be travelling half a day to be in Ljubljana on the fourteenth. But God is so generous, and so is Gabe. Basically my whole team and the missionary family that have basically adopted me in had coordinated with him to surprise me when my flatmate and workmate (the lovely Liv) took me out for drinks and dinner that night. We sat down and looked at the menu when he appeared next to me saying, “Can I buy you ladies a drink?”. Just. so. great! Needless to say, that week amongst my work, I spent time with him, but also with all the other amazing people around me who are constant blessings.
So this week I’ve just been reflecting on how good God is to us, how He loves us so fully and so beautifully, so generously and so wonderfully. We can’t even begin to comprehend God’s love for us. As I went to bed each night this week I praised God for His love, and the way He surrounds us with people to further demonstrate His love for us. Thinking about God’s love always brings me back to 1 John 4 – classic – and I think the more I reflect on how God’s love overflows in the fellowship and love of the people around us, the closer I am to fully understanding the concept in verse 12…
1 John 4:10-12 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
20th – 26th February
On Monday of this week I had a day off in lieu of the AGM on Saturday, so Gabe and I went skiing. It is very cool having ski fields within an hour of where I live, and it being so cheap (compared to Australia)! However, this could turn out to be the most expensive ski trip of my life. Towards the end of the day I took a nasty fall off a jump I definitely should have avoided (I’m not very good at skiing) and felt my knee pop as I collapsed in the snow. After lying wincing for a while I prayed God would give me the strength to get to the bottom of the mountain (thankfully I was quite close), Gabe picked me up and very slowly, we made it to the bottom. The next day I went to the hospital to have it checked out. The doctor said he thought I’d torn my ACL and damaged my meniscus. So please pray for that.
This week I’ve mostly been housebound and dealing with the fact that I may need two operations. It’s been very humbling (thank you Lord for answering that prayer, wasn’t quite the circumstances I was expecting Him to use though) and a reminder that absolutely everything comes from Him, even the ability to step out of bed in the morning, get dressed and walk into the kitchen. My struggle obviously isn’t anywhere near as hard as Job’s, but the last four chapter of Job are some of my favourite passages, and a real comfort. They are such a brilliant reminder that God is in control and we are so humbled before Him.
Job 28:22-30 “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow
or seen the storehouses of the hail,
which I reserve for times of trouble,
for days of war and battle?
What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed,
or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth?
Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain,
and a path for the thunderstorm,
to water a land where no one lives,
an uninhabited desert,
to satisfy a desolate wasteland
and make it sprout with grass?
Does the rain have a father?
Who fathers the drops of dew?
From whose womb comes the ice?
Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens
when the waters become hard as stone,
when the surface of the deep is frozen?
27th February – 2nd March
This week I got to go to Germany to visit Gabe and meet his family. It was such a blessing, especially because it was so uncertain, given my knee-induced immobility. The week was so lovely, everyone was so welcoming and accommodating, especially given I could hardly walk and hardly talk. I speak minimal German, and zero Schwäbisch, so Gabe, again very patiently, translated everything for me. His family are fun, and excellent cooks (such a delicious week!), they were so generous and I so appreciated all their efforts to speak in English. Overall, it was a very relaxed few days. A couple of days before I left were spent at a staff retreat and we had been looking at Psalm 23. Those days in Germany felt like being led beside quiet waters. I’ve been rather frustrated by my knee, and I think life is about to get very busy, so it’s a remarkable and well-timed blessing.
Psalm 23:1-3 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.