I meant business – I tossed my rucksack on the bed, took out my study tools and carefully placed them on the desk by the window before sinking into the comfy chair. Wow, what a view! A pastoral painting by the Great Artist!
This picturesque retreat was perfect to balance out the austerity of my day of fasting and working through the Bible.
Would my struggling days with the Word of God be over when I'd completed this self-help manual 'Through the Bible in 24 hours'? Laying there betwixt notepad and Scriptures it seemed to shout at me Get down to it then, no time to waste. I was determined to finish this course.
The study was an overview of God's Word – but an encouraging one, as reviewers of the book had stated. After slogging away for the first 6 hours, I felt pleased that I'd sprinted up to my target goal in the allotted time span: to the Psalms!
As if scheduled, tea and chocolate biscuits were delivered to my room, in spite of my special request that no food would be required during my stay. My fingers hovered over the plate fluttering in hesitation like a kestrel over a sighted prey below. Succumbing, I persuaded myself it must be God's supply and finished them off. Then I thought about Esau selling his birthright for a bit of stew. Oh Lord, why am I so weak?
During this brief break I witnessed from my window nature's cruelty at its starkest. I was shocked to see a crow with a plump nestling pigeon dangling from its talons speeding off in flight to satisfy its own chicks' insatiable appetites. Retribution came when an adult buzzard gave chase and forced it from the crow. What a terrible fallen world we inhabit.
Battling on – I really enjoyed the prophets: both major and minor! Here I struggled with a moral issue that Hosea had to face – why should he have to marry a prostitute? God must be extremely forgiving if that's how he feels about his relationship with humanity and yet wants to love us.
It was getting dusk - I had another break and so again I peeked out of the window and across the fields. Dark prehistoric-like creatures were streaking about on the wing – mouths snapping like mini-Draculas at juicy insects. Over in the distance a lone fox was zigzagging across a meadow reeling to and fro as if it had made a visit to the brewer's yard and licked up the spillings.
Back to my study - I soldiered on through a long night, doggedly working through the Gospels, intent on digesting all the truths about my Lord Jesus in them. I'm winning – I'm going to finish the course!
The tedium was broken by noises of the night: the screeching of barn owls from their haunts among old farm buildings – two feral tom cats causing noise mayhem, obviously fighting over a feral queen - a vixen's scream (often mistaken for a banshee) that she makes when on heat and in the mating lock with a fox.
Dawn came and went by and I had successfully completed my first intense study of God's Word and all on time.
Over the years I've grown nearer to God because of that initial discipline which set me off on a lifetime's search for intimacy with my Maker through His Word. Much has happened since then to bring me ultimately to this present exciting experience in God.
The University Dean introduced me: We are privileged today to have The Right Reverend Dr. Kenneth Firth – Professor in the Department of Theology to give this morning's lecture on 'Getting Closer to the Maker'.
My nervous heart kept beat with the high volume of the clapping and continued to thump when the applause died down – I felt humbled.
I looked out over the sea of student faces all waiting in eager anticipation. Then I looked down at the speaker's lectern and at my lecture heading:
“CLIMBING JACOB'S LADDER”
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