Monday, 6 February 2006

Who wants to say grace today?

Today's post hits closer to home: what do I actually do in Belgium anyway? Ok, well I'll post about today anyway.

Today I went to Mons GBU meeting. (GBU = CU but think instead a CU small group for an entire uni: now you got it.) This I do every week, and it wasn't all I did today of course - also some photocopying, a couple of hours of IFES team meeting (prayer and planning for the mission next week), some printing of evangelistic questionnaires at a seedy-looking net café (which isn't a café) on the corner, a dash to the Post Office (and a lot of waiting in line), late lunch, preparation for doing evangelism/questionnaire training at Mons and THEN set off for Mons at around 5pm for the 7pm meeting.

The treat this week was that unlike all other weeks heading to Mons, the IFES team leader came too so I got a LIFT & thus arrived in time to pop into a friterie for some dinner before the meeting (imagine that), rather than getting the bus, metro, train & bus and grabbing a hot waffle on the way through the train station.

The meeting was a joy. Ok, so only 3 of the 7-8 group members came. But they were enthusiastic for the couple of days of mission, we got them (mostly) planned and did some evangelism training. I love the gospel. I lead them through revising what the main elements of the gospel are and then went through some questionnaire training. And they're up for doing questionnaires! This all means me praising God muchly.

Y'see, the background to this is that few days ago, we'd only had contact with 2 of them since their exams (all of Jan), they'd been denied permission to hold meetings or put up a stand/stall in any of the university buildings due to religious neutrality (we got an article of law cited in response to the GBU leader's lovely letter of request), they couldn't think of anything else to do and were rather intimidated by the thought anyway, I couldn't see that I should persuade them to do all day just the questionnaire I'd designed, the IFES team leaders had been counting on me re Mons, we had 2 missioners coming from Paris to speak and no meetings for them to speak at and I was feeling like it was all my fault. Ok, not the banning of religious activity from campus bit, but the rest. "If I had been more persistent at the end of last term to get the leader to respond to the mission suggestion by email, then we'd have been organised before the last minute. If I had made the time and effort (French is so much harder to make out via mobile!) to phone the group leader a few days ago when she told me about the refusal of permission, then we would've found other solutions by now. If only I hadn't reassured the IFES team leaders that we did indeed want to do a couple of days of mission at Mons despite not having heard back from the group leader, then we wouldn't be in the situation of having speakers coming from France for 4 days with only 1 talk to give in the 2 days at Mons as we have no venues. If only I'd found out sooner that Mons is some sort of 'free' university so won't allow us rooms/space. If only I..." Then this morning it was as if God shouted something about grace to me as I was praying. "Oh yes. Grace applies!" Grace blows if only I out of the water. It turns desparately despairing prayers to do with my failing into desparately confident prayers to do with God's grace and glory.
[On a slightly different scale but nevertheless true: from Lam 3,19-24 (ESV):]

Remember my affliction and my wanderings,
the wormwood and the gall!
My soul continually remembers it
and is bowed down within me.
But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
"The LORD is my portion," says my soul,
"therefore I will hope in him."

The 2 sides of the coin are that I keep neglecting that in everything I'm dependent on God to his glory, and (praise him!) he keeps finding ways of reminding me. May he never let me forget.
God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption. Therefore, as it is written, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord." [1 Cor 1,28-31 (ESV)]

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