There are times when God speaks so forcefully that the only suitable response is awe and wonder. We experienced this is an unprecedented way last year as we sensed His call to the mission field, and away from ministry in our local church. It was a time of challenge, but also a time of really proving God's power to speak and mould us through His Word.
Recently, God has been dealing with us in the same way again - only this time he is breathing powerful consolation through Scripture. As a couple we are contemplating leaving our home country and going to Peru, along with a pretty young baby (DV). Over the past four weeks or so this reality has been really coming home to us, but equally God has been reassuring us of His purpose and His grace to face what is to come.
Yesterday was a case in point. Our speaker at church yesterday was Jonathan Rea who, along with his wife Carolina, works in Chile with Gospel Mission to South America. In the evening he spoke on Isaiah 41:10 'so do not fear for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand'. Knowing that we were present, and having come through the experience of leaving home and family in the recent past, Jonathan applied this word specifically and pastorally to our situation as a couple, giving assurance that the God of Isaiah 40 is the same God of Isaiah 41, who draws near and gives strength.
Unknown to Jonathan, this truth has been burning in our hearts through our recent readings in the Explore notes regarding Joshua. Joshua 1:9 has been a real help, with God's command: 'be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go'. Sitting in the service we felt so thankful to God that he had brought Jonathan to us, and that God's word had been so tenderly applied.
Now, here's the truly amazing part. After church in the evening I followed my normal Bible reading plan. The readings were Joshua 1 (as per above), Psalm 121 ('the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and for evermore), Isaiah 61 ('the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor') and Matthew 9 ('the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field').
On top of all this, Carolyn texted the verses which Jonathan had preached from to some friends who had lived through a landmark day as a family, and in God's mercy it came at just the right time.
My response to all of this is to extol the name of God, who draws near to us in His Word, who surrounds every command to obey with His promise to give grace, and whose Word is powerful and sharp enough to pierce right into our lives and speak peace to our souls.