Sunday, 3 June 2007

Looking back, looking forward

Three years, eight months and four days ago I met Emma Brewster and a group of other people at Cribbs Causeway just outside of Bristol. It was a day that changed my life. It was the day on which I started on a discipleship scheme for graduates run by UCCF called 'Relay'.

I've been thinking lately about all that I learned under God during my year on Relay. There were loads of things. One of the first that springs to mind is the power of the gospel to change lives. Sure, I knew this in theory before my year on Relay, but by the end of the year I knew it in practice too. Likewise, I'll be grateful for ever in having the opportunity to study through Romans 1-8 with David (my supervising Staff Worker) and Richard (a fellow Relay Worker), which deepened by understanding of the grip and extent of the gospel.

But, above all, the lesson which I learned through Relay was what it means to stand in grace. By God's grace, I am a very different person to the one that stood waiting for my life to my first Relay conference three and a half years ago. Then, I would have been someone who oscillated between legalism - thinking that I could somehow better my standing with God through my actions - and a form of licence, where I didn't really think that sin mattered that much. I will always thank God for using Relay to teach me how grace blows both legalism and licence out of the water. I fight sin because I hate it and God's way of living really is best. I used to be very judgemental of other Christians. Grace teaches me to show patience and grace to others, because I have myself been shown immeasurable grace and patience and kindness.

I guess I've got quite reflective about all of this because tomorrow I leave for my last ever Relay conference. On finishing as a Relay Worker, I ended up becoming a Staff Worker with UCCF and, to my surprise, found myself on the Relay team. I have had the delight of attending nine Relay conferences - three as a Relay Worker and six on Relay staff. This week will mark by tenth conference. It feels a bit like the end of an era as my immediate connection with the Relay programme ceases. I am so thankful for the past three and a half years. I'm grateful for the genuinely godly people that have been placed in my path. And as a Staff Worker, through God's goodness, the Relay conferences I've attended (and supervision of Chris, Sarah, Jon and Laura) have ensured that I've not been allowed to forget the lessons I started to learn as a Relay Worker.

Things become all the more poignant because this will be my final blog entry before I get married next Saturday, the day after 'Relay 3' finishes. My Relay commitment will then have finished, but nothing has changed. In fact, I am perhaps more aware than ever of the need for God's future grace in my life as I begin to face up to my commitments and responsibilities before God as a husband. More than ever I am needing to remind myself: You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. Thanks Andy, thanks Maurice, to God be the glory.

Grace abounding, strong and true That makes me long to be like you, That turns me from my selfish pride To love the cross on which you died. Grace unending all my days; You'll give me strength to run this race And when my years on earth are true The praise will all belong to you.

From 'Grace Unmeasured' by Bob Kauflin, available for free download here.

1 comment:

thebluefish said...

Amen. Roll on Relay16, and another day of His grace.