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Posts Tagged ‘Romans 12’

I have come to the conclusion God enjoys catching us unawares, sneaking up and surprising us when we might least expect it – like the time a few weeks ago when I sat down to prepare a sermon. After reflecting on the first few verses of Romans 12, it occurred to me I needed to check out their context. My eyes flicked back to the end of the previous chapter – and that was all it took for God to ‘ambush’ me and trigger a memory I thought was buried long ago.

In a millisecond, I was back in my bedroom in Brisbane where I grew up, sitting at the brown masonite desk my father had made for me, chewing the end of my pen as I studied and staring at the wall in front of me. The wall was a pretty shade of pink – except for the space right before my eyes. Much to my mother’s disgust, I had insisted on sticking up a variety of quotes, Scripture verses and other bits and pieces there. And in amongst it all, carefully written out by hand, was one of those verses I had just caught sight of again as I sat at my current desk over forty-five years later – Romans 11:33:

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!

                How unsearchable are his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!

As I sat stunned, I felt every emotion from those middle teenage years in Brisbane. At fifteen, I had just come to understand what being a Christian meant – and it had been a momentous, life-changing experience for me. From that point on, I was eager to grow in my faith and do great things for God. Even then, when I had first stuck that verse on my wall, I realised I belonged to an awesome, amazing, ‘unknowable’ God, so high and holy, and so far above and beyond my own wisdom or that of anyone else in this world. But I also knew that this God knew me and loved me, would watch over me and would show me the way forward in my life. Yes, I had the normal teenage doubts and fears – but I belonged to God, who gave me real purpose and direction in life.

Then, again in a millisecond, I was back in the present – and realising what God wanted to show me. Through all the twists and turns of my life since those days in Brisbane, God, in his infinite wisdom and knowledge, had indeed guided me and faithfully ‘traced out’ my paths. And as a result, that verse rang even more true for me now. I sat still for some time, filled with awe and overcome with thankfulness for God’s gracious, loving hand of mercy on me throughout my life.

Now I truly was in a place to share God’s word from Romans 12. Now, ‘in view of God’s mercy’, as verse 1 says, I could wholeheartedly encourage others to offer themselves as ‘living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God.’ After all, as the rest of this verse is put in the New Living Translation, ‘when you think of what [God] has done for you, is this too much to ask?

No, it definitely isn’t, I concluded, my heart still caught up in that image of the fifteen-year-old sitting at her desk so long ago, wondering what her life would hold.

But how about you? Do you think it’s too much to ask?

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