Monday, 19 May 2014

Help with my assignment

The study rooms were full on Friday.  Everyone was at the their desk, clicking and typing away.  Every so often the air was punctuated with a heavy sigh. 

That was the first Research Week that I was in the studies (last term’s Research Week I was sick and didn’t want to share my cold with everyone). 

I think I liked writing my essay there.  There’s a sense of camaraderie in the studies.  Everyone is working hard, and those who are struggling are happy to say so.  People would ask each other questions, talk through thoughts they were having and borrow books from each other.  We’re all in this together in some sense.  I also found comfort from the people who were still there, late into the night. 

But there was something else that struck me even more.  I was struck by the fact that there were people praying for me as I wrote the essay.  Not just the unknown-to-me-people who regularly pray for students at our college, or the friends I had asked to pray for me, but even some of my fellow students, also working hard to get the essay done.  Not just praying that I would get it finished on time, but that I would learn and grow from doing it.

In the spirit of the passage I looked at for my essay (Deut 4:32-40):  Search in days gone by and over the world, in what other field of study have you ever hear of this happening? 

This is such a great comfort to me.  The people who I study with aren’t students who I compete with for marks or try to beat in the bell curve.  Or even people I am ambivalent towards as I focus on my own learning.  They are friends, family in Christ, who care about each other, help each other out with resources, and even pray for each other. 

But this is not just a comfort to me.  It is also a rebuke.  I was so focused on my own essay; getting it right and getting it done, that I didn’t really think about asking God to help anyone else with theirs.  How selfish of me.

I am thankful for not just the things I learn at college, but also the way that my attitudes and motivations are being reshaped.  Please pray that God would continue to change my heart to be more like Jesus, as I will be praying for my fellow students.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

When you don’t like public speaking…

This is only a short post because I’ve still got a lot of work to do.  I just thought that since it has been a while since my last post I’d let you all know what I’ve been up to and what is coming up. 

The biggest thing on my mind at the moment is the fact that I’m preaching in Women’s Chapel at college tomorrow!  Eeek! 

I have never preached before, I’ve never really written a sermon before.  It has been hard.  I didn’t even know where to start!  This has given me a greater respect for those who write sermons or Bible talks week in and week out.  Of course, they have had more practice than me, but it’s still something that takes a lot of time and creative energy. 

Even though it has been hard I’ve enjoyed the process of digging deeper into my passage and working out how to preach it.  I’ve had to understand how the passage fits within its wider context (the letter that it’s from), and the logic of the passage.  I’ve looked at other parts of the letter that talk about similar things to help me to understand my section. 

Here’s a picture of my work station.  I’ve got a screen at the back showing the feedback notes I took when I gave this sermon in my college preaching group.  My Bible is open to the passage, and I’ve got some notes written down on the paper on my left. 

On Sunday I also lead our church service for the first time.  For someone who doesn’t like public speaking, this has made for a lot of it in one go!  Though I was nervous and unsure of myself the people at church were very encouraging.  I also found it spiritually encouraging to have prepared for leading the service and feeling responsible in a way for leading the congregation in hearing God’s word and worshipping him. 

Next week is also a busy week.  It’s research week, a week when we have no classes so that we can dedicate our time to the big assignment that is due at the end of the week.  For second years it is an Old Testament essay on a passage from Deuteronomy. 

And everything that normally happens is still happening.  Winter dinners have started up at our community, church Bible study group and women’s Bible study group are still running.  I’m still doing ballet with some girls from college each week, and I’m enjoying running with some of my neighbours a few times a week. 

If you are a praying person I would appreciate your prayers.  Please pray:

  • that I would preach the truth tomorrow and God would use what I say
  • that God would calm my nerves and give me confidence in him
  • for all the students at college as they complete big assignments next week
  • that we would take time to rest and be thankful to God