As I wrote last time, my parents visited me for a week. It was a great time being with them and exploring more of Slovenia together. One of the highlights (for me at least) was visiting the town of Most Na Soči (the imaginative name literally means bridge on the River Soča). In my opinion, after Lake Bled, this was the most beautiful place I've been to in Slovenia. Although we had a hair raising journey across the mountains to get here, this part of God's creation made up for it!
It's hard to imagine it now but this valley region between Italy and Austria was the site of one of the bloodiest campaigns during WW1. It's estimated that 1.7 million men died here on the Isonzo front. It was also the inspiration for Ernest Hemmingway's A Farewell to Arms. 100 years later it is all peace and tranquillity but many men suffered so that we may have that. In the same way, it is a reminder of what Jesus suffered so that we may be freed and have a hope and a future.
In my one to one sessions over the last few weeks we have been studying the book of Ruth. I was surprised by just how much I learnt and got out of preparing these sessions. It's a story I know very well yet I learnt so much about faith and what it truly means to love other people. In order to prepare I used a commentary by Christopher Ash on teaching Ruth and Esther (which we will move onto soon) which I found immensely helpful. I thought I would share some of his insights on faith from Ruth chapter 3. For those who don't know, Ruth 3 is about a young woman making herself vulnerable and asking an older man, Boaz, to marry her to save her and her Mother-in-Law, Naomi, from poverty. Ruth trusts both God and Boaz for her future but at the end of the chapter we don't know if Boaz will be able to help them or not. Boaz is often seen as a Christ-like figure and in the end he makes the costly decision to save Ruth and Naomi because he priorities what God says and their needs above his own.
I claim no credit for the following although it has been put into my own words:
There are six facets to Biblical faith:
ü Faith is Intentional – it is not something that just happens by waiting, sometimes we need to do something and trust God with the results
ü Faith is Vulnerable – it means coming to Christ and abandoning all other securities
ü Faith is Intimate – faith must be individual and personal, it is one believer entrusting themselves to one Redeemer
ü Faith is Grounded in Covenant Promises – it is a conscious decision to trust what God has promised in Christ
ü Faith is Effective – Jesus always responds to covenant faith with the assurance that He will do what He has promised
ü Faith Involves Waiting – just as Ruth has to wait for Boaz to sort out the legalities, we wait for our future with ChristThis story which happened about 3,300 years ago (ish) still has much to teach and it has been a great privilege to see how much the girls (and myself) have been learning from it.
On a slightly different note, schools have ended now which means that all my timetables will change. All the weekly Bible studies will be condensed into a single weekly meeting (as well as church obviously). Next week I will be off to Austria to visit some people who are helping with my member care. Please pray for my travels but also that I will have a good, fruitful and refreshing time with this lovely couple.