It has been quite a while since I've posted! There has been a lot going on with school and writing curriculum (which I'm making very s..l..o..w progress on) and trips to Ohio...I just haven't felt like I've had much to write about.
My brother Sam spent the summer with me in Missouri. His twin sister Sarah was supposed to come for the last part, but Sam and I decided to postpone returning to Ohio for the trade. Two weeks after we were supposed to go back and I was supposed to bring her to Missouri, on july 24, Sarah was suddenly diagnosed with stage 4 cancer...without treatment she would have had 2 to 4 weeks to live. However, she has the only kind of cancer that is treatable with chemotherapy at such a late stage, so praise the Lord, she is still alive and fighting! So I took Sam home in August and spent three weeks with them before I had to return for the start of the semester at AGTS.
On September 6, my uncle ended his own life, and I returned to Ohio for another three weeks for his funeral and to spend a little more time with my family. I feel almost guilty, but I have grieved only minimally for him...mostly I am just angry about that whole situation, and concerned for his children and my grandmother.
A third happening since my last post, and a much more positive one, has been that I have decided to visit China for a few weeks next summer! I'm working on getting my passport and visa and booking flights, etc....and I've also begun to study the language. (Unfortunately, I haven't had much time to progress very far in those studies because of the prevailing immediacy of my other studies.)
A couple of theological subjects I've been thinking about lately are from Deuteronomy 1:32 and 1 john 4:eighteen (my capital j and eight buttons are not working right now...).
The first, in Deuteronomy 1, is where Moses recounts to Israel how God delivered them from Egypt and kept them through the wilderness and brought them to the land He had promised to give them. He had delivered them with great miracles from 400 years of slavery, and He had led them with a pillar of cloud by day and a column of fire by night as they traversed the desert on their way to Canaan. He had provided food and protection for them on their journey. But when they got to the promised land and could SEE it right there, and God said "I've given it into your hand - just go possess it," they sent in spies to decide the best way to do just that. And when they saw that there were already people living there - giants, no less - they began to murmur and say, "Because the LORD hated us, he hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us" (Deuteronomy 1:27).
After all the Lord had done for them, they doubted both Him and His motives. Essentially, they were comparing Him to humanity, and to the pagan gods of other nations. They did not believe that He had good plans for them and that He would keep His word to deliver the land to them.
This hit me hard - how often do I disobey (or hesitate to obey) God when I know He wants me to do something, because of fear? "In this thing I do not believe the LORD my God" (Deuteronomy 1:32). In this one thing I doubt that He is in control...I doubt that He really has my best interests at heart, and that He will be faithful to carry me through. How dare I compare Him to the untrustworthy people and gods that I've known? He is God. And He is good. And after all, I serve Him because I love Him, right? Then why not go all the way?!
My second thought is from 1 john 4:eighteen...and I did not realize until just now that these thoughts are related.... "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love." I always assumed this verse meant that, because His love for me is perfect, I have no reason to fear. But I think it goes farther than that. His love for me is always perfect...yet I sometimes fear. The fact that I fear does not mean His love is not perfect...so it must mean that my love is not perfect. This encapsulates both my love for God and my love for others, because if I perfectly love God, then I also will love others - the two are inseparable.
There was a story of a little boy in the Florida Everglades who fell into the water and was grabbed by an alligator. His mother heard him screaming and came running and caught his arms just before he was taken under. She stayed right there and wrestled an alligator to save her son. He survived. When reporters visited him in the hospital, they inquired about the terrible scars the animal had left on his legs. The little boy replied that his favorite scars were the ones on his arms - left there because his mother wouldn't let go. Love had overcome any fear she might have had for that alligator.
Our love for God is evidenced through our obedience to Him (john 14:15). It thus goes to show that when fear keeps us from obeying God, our love for Him is not perfect.
God, help me to love You more perfectly, so that I will obey You more perfectly!