Fyodor was a wild young man in Russia during the repressive reign of Tsar Nicholas I. He was arrested, tried, and condemned to be executed. On a bitterly cold morning, the prisoners were taken out to be shot. The prison guards raised their muskets to their shoulders and took aim. At the last moment, a white flag was raised to announce that the Tsar had commuted their sentence to life imprisonment in Siberia.
On his arrival in Siberia on Christmas Eve 1849, at the age of twenty-eight, two women slipped him a New Testament. While in prison, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, the great Russian novelist, read the New Testament from cover to cover and learnt much of it by heart. He wrote, ‘I believe that there is no one lovelier, deeper, more sympathetic, and more perfect than Jesus. I say to myself with jealous love not only is there no one else like him, but there never could be anyone like him.’ It was through the Bible that he had encountered Jesus Christ.
Through the Bible, God speaks to you too.
Feelings are great liars. If Christians worshipped only when they felt like it, there would be precious little worship. We think that if we don’t feel something there can be no authenticity in doing it. But the wisdom of God says something different: that we can act ourselves into a new way of feeling much quicker than we can feel ourselves into a new way of acting. Worship is an act that develops feelings for God, not a feeling for God that is expressed in an act of worship.
― Eugene H. Peterson
As someone who has spent the last decade training young men and women for Christian service, I have been keen to help them see that the best kinds of ministry are, more often than not, long term and low key. I have tried to prepare them for a marathon, not a short, energetic sprint. In other words, to help them have a lifetime of sustainable sacrifice, rather than an energetic but brief ministry that quickly fades in exhaustion.
― Christopher Ash
We only get one life. We might wish for more. D. H. Lawrence said, ‘If only one could have two lives. The first in which to make one’s mistakes… and the second in which to profit by them.’ But there are no dress rehearsals for life; we find ourselves on stage straightaway.
Even if we have made mistakes in the past, it is possible with God’s help to make something of the future. How can we make the most of the rest of our lives? Paul tells us in Romans 12:1–2 how we can do this:
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – which is your spiritual worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Jan Steven is the Pastoral Care Chaplain at Grace Mennonite Church. She is also the webservant.