George Verwer annoyed me today. He annoyed me in a GOOD way.  

I had been looking forward to a nice and relaxing evening at home after an eventful weekend and a busy Monday. I sat at the dinner table, ate and opened my little George Verwer book "No Turning Back". I was only a few lines into my new chapter when George writes: 'I want you to stop at this point and read the first 6 chapters of the Books of Acts.' 

The 6 first chapters??? I'll look up a verse or two if you want, George, but 6 chapters, are you serious? I rolled my eyes and sighed loudly. Honestly, I was super annoyed.  All was going well in my search for a cute clever quote, for an inspiring statement by a zealous Christian writer that would make me feel good, something that would pick me up and reassure me that, maybe, I don't have to cry myself to sleep tonight for feeling that I have failed God and failed living a life worthy of his calling. Now George was ruining it! Thanks. I was  BOTHERED.

Almost as if George had heard the inner grumbling came the next sentence: 
'Please do so before you go on.' 

Hmph. I nearly smiled (in a bothered kind of way) and thought 'Alright, then!'. But it took me a couple of minutes. My mind battled with a dozen thoughts: 

Do I put the book down and go back to this chapter when I have 'more time'?, 
Will I really not get the rest of the book if I don't read those chapters? 
If I don't read the 6 Acts chapters I may really not get the rest of this book,
If I do skip the bible reading, will the next sentence read "GO ON, YOU SLACKER!"?

It took me some time, as I said, to decide to open my bible -- for the first time today -- and spend some time listening to God. I guess I had other 'better' things to do (i.e emails, facebook). What a [insert noun describing my complete lack of sensibility]. So I went upstairs to grab my bible and read the first 6 chapters of Acts. And I enjoyed it. I discovered some details I hadn't noticed before, said "WOW" out loud a few times, smiled, felt challenged, and marvelled afresh at what God did in Jerusalem in those early days of the Christian church. I felt renewed, like someone had opened a window and fresh air had been breathed into a very, very stuffy room. 

Acts 3:19 particularly struck me.  "Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord..." I don't remember ever noticing the bit about "times of refreshing". This was new for me! God intends not only to save us from eternity without him but to renew, to give rest and refreshing. How awesome is that?

George ends this tiny chapter with these words,

'As we die to ourselves, to our failures and jealousies and hatreds and lusts, we can turn our eyes away from our own sordid tangles to the glory and beauty and wholeness of Jesus.  We will find that the lives we have abandoned to him are given back to us abundantly and with joy, both now and in the life to come.  We are accepted not as soul-winners but as sinners.  We are the grain of wheat that falls into the ground and dies, so that it may produce thirty-, sixty-, a hundred-fold.'

I thank the Lord for George and for this nudge. I was reminded that I am not immune to complacency and apathy. Even in those small, quiet moments at home. It's a challenge!! And I need God's help to turn my eyes to the glory and beauty and wholeness of Jesus, to dwell in him and his word daily that I may bear fruit for his kingdom. In his strength and with the joy that he provides.

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