This is a picture of the shelf above my research desk. You might think it a bit random but I can tell you that this sign is a great encouragement to me!
In case the poor quality of the camera on my mobile phone is hindering your ability to read the inscription, this is what it says:
In Christ, God has ALREADY said YES.
So no matter how hard this feels,
it is ONLY the AMEN.
It reminds me that the only reason I embarked upon this research was because God led me there. I did not choose this without a little help! In fact, throughout 2008, 2009 and 2010 I was vehemently denying that I would ever start off along this road. Many of you told me that I should, that I could, even that I would. But I was adamant that I had not heard from God and so would not be doing a PhD.
Yes…how things can change! Here I am, in 2011, and that is exactly what I am attempting. But the difference is that over the first half of this year God spoke to me. Repeatedly but gently he pursued me in this matter. Never forcing his will upon me, yet he wooed my heart. He showed me that in Christ he has already said yes to this and that it was time for me to say Amen.
In Christ, all of God’s promises are Yes. It is done. What he intends will come to pass. This study, the hours at my desk, the oh-so-occasional clarity of thought which is won through hours of hard work alternated with sheer panic: all of it is only my Amen. The Yes has already been said – and this not by me, but by the One who is himself the very Yes of God, in whom all of God’s promises have been, are being and will be fulfilled.
So no matter how hard this feels, no matter how many troubles accompany this task, no matter even that it takes longer and demands more that I ever thought I could give, my efforts are still only the Amen, the agreement with the Yes of God in my life. And that is of great comfort to me.
I will tell you freely: I am not starting this degree because I think it’s a good idea. In fact, quite often, as I struggle to formulate intelligent thoughts in seeking to articulate my thesis, I wonder if it was a very bad idea! No, indeed, for this whole endeavour to be only my good idea would be insufficient to sustain me even for one week of studying.
Rather, I have started this work because he led me there, because he has already said Yes to this endeavour. I remember that mine is only to say the Amen to God for his glory. And even that is not mine alone: 2 Corinthians reminds me that it is through Christ and not in my own strength that I speak this Amen.
Thus, next time I moan to you about this research, or express panic, fear or anything else negative concerning the work or my ability to do it, remind me of this: no matter how hard it feels, it is ONLY the AMEN!