Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Living There

Experience can change your mind.

When my husband and I moved to Saskatchewan, we thought we’d moved into a hair dryer. The wind that blew off the prairie that August was incessant, hot and dry. I remember standing on the back step of our tiny trailer, looking out at the flat stubble-covered land and thinking it was the ugliest, most desolate piece of country I’d ever seen. We lived there for three years and over that time I saw the land transformed as the seasons followed one after the other and my eyes grew accustomed to subtle changes. Then one day I stood on that same back step, looking out at a waving wheat field and realized how much I was going to miss watching the play of light, the continual shift of clouds and being able to see to forever.

When we first arrived in Papua New Guinea the people all looked alike. For a while I was nervous about going to the market because I was afraid I would not recognize the woman who worked for us and not buying vegetables from her would have been very rude. When we left Papua New Guinea I sat in the airport and watched the people I’d come to know. I picked out women from the south and men from the islands off the coast. That one was from Buka and that one from somewhere in the highlands. I wondered how I could ever have thought they all looked alike.

There was a time when I thought the Bible contained nothing but myths and rules. I thought it was designed to control people’s behaviour and restrict their will. Then I started reading it. I was amazed at the history, the wisdom, and most of all the portrait, painted in words, of a man whose life, though lived more than two thousand years ago, was having a dramatic affect on my own.

Experience changed my mind in Saskatchewan, in Papua New Guinea, and in consistent reading of the scriptures. I discovered that in order to know a place and a people, you have to live there, among them. In order to know God, you have to read His communication to you.
There was a group of people in ancient times who discovered this. They were called the Bereans. The apostle Paul visited them, teaching and preaching about the Messiah. The Bereans "examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true" (Acts 17:11).

God has given us a wonderful promise concerning the scriptures. He said – "As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth ... so is my word that goes out from my mouth; It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it."

There is a way to claim that promise. Living there makes all the difference.

No comments: