Down the centre of the long, oval pine table stood a line of scented candles, warming the room with their soft flickering glow. The coffee pot gurgled and snorted like a disgruntled steam engine as it produced a fragrant brew. And refreshments lay out on the table: Christmas cake, boterkoek and truffles. The house and I were ready...just waiting for the sound of stamping feet and opening door.
In the to and fro of recent conversations about God, we four had been grappling with concepts, seeking to understand some things better and learning how to apply truths grasped. When I listened to a CD in a set I'd bought Pete for Christmas, it so resonated with what we'd been talking about that a week or so ago, I invited them all over to listen to it with me on the first day after the Christmas weekend that we were free. The CD set I gave Pete was Great Books Everyone Should Know: A Practical Guide to 12 Timeless Classics by Dr. Ken Boa. He is such a good teacher and so enthusiastic about the books he is teaching on. The one I wanted Jamie, Susan and Frances to hear was on My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. Dr. Boa had distilled the essence of the book into 16 themes.
We settled in comfortable chairs. Paul came in and joined us and we listened intently, stopping the CD here and there to discuss a point that seemed especially important. The discussion was honest and passionate. We didn't all agree on everything, but we were all seeking to understand and find truth. We sounded a bit like one of those British political debate programs and I thought about the time a few months ago when Pete and I were engaged in an intense conversation one Sunday afternoon about a book I'd read. He wasn't sure he agreed with my thoughts on the book and I was trying to make sure he understood what I meant when little William, our grandson, said, "God is really happy right now because you're talking about him." It stopped me in my tracks and made me laugh but it was so wise and true. Don't you agree that God loves it when we are thinking deeply about him and testing our thoughts with trustworthy friends?
This morning I read today's Daily Light and it was as though God took all of the concepts we were holding in tension and put them in one devotional reading. About half an hour after I read it, the phone rang and Frances said, "Have you read the Daily Light?" We read it again together and then we read today's reading from My Utmost for His Highest, which neither of us had read yet--and it seemed as though God was continuing the conversation with us. We both laughed in amazement at how God does this thing.
Later on Susan came over for a belated birthday celebration; her choice was turkey soup at our house. In her hand she carried sheafs of paper. She'd found the notes to the session we listened to, on Dr. Boa's website and had printed off two sets. We read them together and discussed them all again, and then we read the Daily Light and My Utmost for His Highest again, and talked some more.
I pray that the New Year, just short days away, will be one of deepening relationship with Christ and with each other, as we press in closer to him and encourage one another in our faith.
And I am sure that some will spill over here.
Philippians 1:9-10 (New International Version, ©2010)
9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ