Today the course finished here in Sri Lanka. Actually I should say the classroom time finished because the students still have reading and written assignments to work on for the next month. For two of them that is the final step before they can graduate from the MDiv programme in December.
It has been a good few days. Together we have explored how narratives work, experienced the blessing of entering into several Bible narratives at a greater depth and learned a bit about how to preach them effectively to others. This morning the students each preached the passage they have been working on all week (several never having presented in English before – respect to them!)
I have to tell you that it was a blessing to be there. At the start of the week they were naturally nervous about having to preach a sermon in class (and with only three evenings to prepare). But we have been able to put a lot of the academic trappings to one side and enjoy the blessing of entering into the text as brothers before a God who is far more concerned with our hearts than He is with our grades.
I was ministered to this morning. The extent of the persistence Jesus advocated in Luke 18:1-8 in relation to praying, especially praying for justice in an unjust world. Delay is not denial. Nice. The example of Bartimeus who knew enough about Jesus to pursue Him and then follow Him in the direction of the cross. The never tiring lesson of stressed Martha who discovered you can’t love God by loving others, it is unsustainable. The blessed privilege of joining Mary at the feet of the Lord, loving Him by allowing Him to minister to us.
After lunch we returned to talk through the Mary/Martha passage for another 90 minutes, delighting in the design of the passage in its context, but more than that, humbly recognizing our need of the lesson taught in the passage so powerfully.
To me that is the blessing of teaching – to allow the academic rigour to push a group of strangers deeper into God’s Word than we might have been for a while, or ever! And as we enter God’s Word, we feel His heart reaching out to ours, and we find our hearts bonding together … not as leaders, but as followers; not as God’s employees, but as sons; not as lecturer and students, but as brothers.
Tomorrow is a national holiday here, hence no class. I couldn’t change my return ticket, so I have the next 24 hours here on my own – time to prepare for Sunday and next weekend, time with God and time to sleep. Thanks for praying for me this week. I really appreciate your prayer for return travel (via Singapore – very short layover), for Melanie and the children at home, and for these students as they press on in their ministries (one left to lead a funeral this afternoon, another funeral tomorrow).