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Always Something to Discover
|Brian’s College, Brasenose, Oxford (left), |
Radcliffe Camera (right)
(photo: Richard N Haile, FIBP FRPS
I rediscovered Psalm 57. I must have read it hundreds of times before.
'I will call on God who performs all things for me.'
'My soul is among lions but my heart is steadfast.'
'Awake, my soul, awake at dawn, I will confess Thee and sing to Thee among the nations.'
The Bible is always waiting to be discovered. A modern translation may make an old verse come alive, although personally I love the old Authorised Version best - it is a literary masterpiece.
This sense of discovery reminds me of the tours of Oxford I've often done for visiting friends.
Constantly I notice new things. I look up and there is a new statue or a new view. But it's been there a long time.
'He performs all things for me.' How often have I thought that I performed all things for Him.
Psalm 18 is a beauty: 'Thou wilt light my candle, enlarge my steps under me, make my way perfect.' Enlighten, enlarge, perfect. What a fantastic God who can do these things for us.
One point of having a leisured quiet time is to allow God time and space to do them.
Take Romans chapter 12. It is a charter for life. It opens: 'Commit your life to God. Don't let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould. Do not conform, but rather let God transform you. Then you can know the will of God and move towards the goal of true maturity.'
I was on the early bus from Oxford to London. I had bicycled furiously and had only just caught it. I sat down breathlessly and looked forward to reading the novel Waverley, by Walter Scott.
Opposite me was a girl from Africa. There were several reasons why I should not talk to her. It was early in the morning. She was in her 20's and I approaching 60. I wanted to read my book. Finally, she was asleep.
I started reading but prayed to see if I should talk to her. When she woke I greeted her and she said she was on her way to a weekly lecture at the London School of Economics, part of her Doctorate on the Administrative Service of West Africa.
When the bus arrived in London about two hours later we had had the most interesting conversation. She said how our TV news and programmes filled her with hopelessness, when what she needed was hope for the serious situation in her country.
I think I gave her a bit of hope. She certainly gave me an idea of what she expected Britain to do for Africa.
I finished Waverley another time! Probably it was another bus journey. I don't automatically talk to strangers on buses.
Walter Scott is certainly one of my favourite authors. John Buchan, in his Life of Walter Scott, wrote: 'Scott stood at the heart of life and his interests embraced everything that interested his fellows. This is the keystone of his character and mind: they were central and universal. He was impatient of nothing that God had made, but he did not merely tolerate, for he was eager to understand.' He quotes Scott as saying, 'without courage there cannot be truth and without truth there can be no other virtue.'
Early illness and lifelong lameness did not embitter him, but only deepened him. Scott inspired novelists like Victor Hugo, Manzoni and Dostoevsky.
It is fascinating to look at the spiritual vein that runs through much of great literature.
There is a lovely verse in Isaiah chapter 26: 'Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose imagination is stayed on Thee, because he trusted in Thee.'
It is important to feed that imagination with great writing and great lives. Otherwise the world, the flesh and the television can fill it with garbage.
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