Skelwith Force

The torn polygonal scraps of slate that line

Brathay’s bed above the force

Are dull when plucked, laid out and dry, but shine

Under the crag-stream’s course.

The whole broad dale at Elter Water’s strewn

With spring’s flood-leavings

And the upturned ash and birch-tree ruin

Tell of unseen heavings.

Out of the hill came the water, stripping the stone,

And lushing up the dale,

Around the ice-old mounds, the under-bone

Of the sleeper of a forgotten tale.

The soft and hard are side by side and felt

By every walker strolling down to see

The water turn to steam,

The clear become opaque,

The straight begin to bend,

The sure become unsure,

At Skelwith Force, where glaciations melt

And obstacles sudden slip free.

Josh Davidson 4

Dry thistles at Thames Barrier Point

Dry thistles at Thames Barrier Point

Part I

Now, Joshua didn’t stay there long. He followed the voice that told him to go out into the hills and woods of the country, and underwent a test of his own self. A time of self-seeking, some might call it, although this Joshua already knew who he was and what he was called to do. But every accusation that could come at him, as he walked and thought and prayed, attacked him with the voice of the devil. Because he wasn’t eating or drinking, the whole time, longer than a month, and if you’ve never been without food that long then you can’t say you know what hunger was. But he knew what hunger was – past the pangs of longing, into the feeling of bodily need, when your own body feels light because you have metabolised every scrap of fat between your sinews and under your skin. When the cushions of cartilage and fluid are empty and your nerves run directly over your bones.

“Hungry?” asked the Devil scornfully. “But you don’t even need to be hungry! You’re just indulging your need for drama – and needlessly. You’re going to survive – so why invite all this pain and starvation? Only a sadist does that. And are you a sadist?

“And anyway, didn’t we all hear it? If you are God’s son, you can turn any of these stones from the path into something good to eat – you can call a tree to fruit right in front of you. And I thought you liked that whole blossoming, fruiting, growing thing anyway? There’s no need for this stupid fast.”

But he knew why he was there. The hunger was the unavoidable companion of the degree of discipline and sacrifice he had chosen. The Devil was just trying to distract him from the real reason for his fast. “I know what it says,” replied Joshua to that needling voice. “Food doesn’t keep you going and breath doesn’t keep you breathing – it’s God’s promises that keep us alive.” He remembered the way his dad Joseph had said that – sometimes when he had been hungry and sometimes right before a feast. His dad had stuck to what he knew to be true.

But then it was as though Josh’s wanderings had brought him, suddenly, around a dry-stone wall and beneath overhanging trees to the pinnacle of the tallest tower in London, the city spread our below him, the trains rushing into and out of London Bridge station, vans delivering, riverboats accelerating away, and no-one looking up. And the Devil challenged him again.

“I don’t even know why you’re being careful with yourself. If you fall, you’re not going to die! If you were God’s son he’d send an angel to catch you, wouldn’t he? Like it says in that book you love – ‘His angels have orders to protect you, so they’ll carry you and you won’t even stub your toe.’ It’s a written promise, isn’t it? So just jump and leave all this stubborn walking.”

Joshua shook his head. “And it says ‘Don’t joke about with God’s promise.”

But then it was like Joshua had climbed even higher, so that in one view he could see all the countries of the worlds, their rulers and parliaments, all the wonderful diverse and developed kingdoms of men. And he heard the Devil say. “And where is God, anyway? Have you heard him, after all this time not eating or drinking? But you can hear me. Do what I say and you’ll have this – you know you will. You’re powerful enough to take it, if you let me direct you. If you choose me instead…”

“Don’t you dare,” said Joshua. “Don’t you dare even suggest it, you liar! I know what it says: ‘You belong to God – so don’t let anyone else take charge.’ I know what will happen if I choose you, you liar! Go away.”

And that was the last he heard of that needling voice. But I tell you what, he didn’t stub his toe on any stone as he came off the hills and back towards home. And whichever way he looked he saw figures guarding and guiding. And they even fed him with a food that he couldn’t quite recognise. And by the time he was back from his walk, he looked better and fitter than ever.

On the journey back he heard that John Waters had been arrested and was being held pending charges. He returned to his mum’s place and picked up a few things. And then he went down to Chesterfield, because it had always been said that when God would choose to change things, he’d start there. Perhaps because if God could change Chesterfield, he could change anywhere. So that was when Joshua Davidson started to tell people. “Change your life,” he’d say. Whether it was someone on the bus next to him or when he got on local radio or a visit to a school. “Change your life, because God’s reign is coming.”

Verses 121-128

I have done what is righteous and just;

do not leave me to my oppressors.

How can I, a man, claim to have acted righteously?  By God’s indwelling: he cannot leave me because he binds himself by his promise, like a husband to a wife, and we have a thousand proofs of his faithfulness.  I am now founded on him and his character.  So I can ask God not to leave me to my once-while, erstwhile oppressors – the temptations and habits of an unrighteous past.

Ensure your servant’s well-being;

let not the arrogant oppress me.

Well-being relates to our identity as servants of a good master.  It may not be a very English thing to pray, but God wills our well-being – that we should say ‘It is well, it is well with my soul’.  We are free of the oppression of the arrogance because the arrogant admit no higher authority – and they cannot assume authority over us as we now live in a much more direct, essential chain of command.

My eyes fail, looking for your salvation,

looking for your righteous promise.

It’s a full-time job.  I see your kingdom on Earth, Lord, your salvation for the people, until day fails and night falls.  Hence Simeon’s release when he could say ‘My eyes have seen your salvation’.

Deal with your servant according to your love

and teach me your decrees.

This may be a prayer but really it is only an echo of God’s promise: that he WILL deal with us in love, not wrath, and that he intends to teach us his way, his style and his intentions, that we would be made holy in him.  ‘May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through.  May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.’  1 Thessalonians 5:23.  To do all the things of this Psalm we must embrace first the Father’s – the Master’s – love for us and let him change us. Then what a relief to be taught, not a struggle or a duty, since we know we are loved!  Much of the struggle in learning comes from not realising that the one teaching us cares for us – parent, teacher or God.

I am your servant; give me discernment

that I may understand your statutes.

The servant should resemble the master: God is wise and he wants us to be wise.  ‘No longer do I call you servants,’ John 15:15, because God by his spirit has given us the keys to his wealth, including this discernment or understanding.  We no longer have to obey in ignorance but can be changed to understand the principles of God with our heart.  I’ve read about ‘the role of a servant but the position of a son’, which seems like the fine sort of legal distinction Jesus laughed at, but maybe that’s how to reconcile these scriptures for now.

It is time for you to act, O Lord;

your law is being broken.

A bold plea – from the servant to the master – asking him to intervene wherever his law is broken – primarily within myself.  Whenever I note that God’s law of love is broken, in myself or otherwise, my first response should not be to fix it myself by to cry to the master ‘It is time for you to act’.  And that cry can be made with confidence because of the proof that he does and will act to save.

Because I love your commands more than gold,

more than pure gold,

This is what it means to be secure against sin and unrighteousness – to cultivate a deep love – a passion – for God’s word.  A desire so strong that the desire for gold looks like a passing fancy.

and because I consider all your precepts right,

I hate every wrong path.

Preference for one path, this path, however difficult, is based on considering God’s instruction preferable to every other possible choice.  Everything God has done has brought about life and freedom and all the good we see, so any path diverting me from considering or following this way is an evil distraction.

Verses 105-112

Your word is a lamp to my feet

And a light for my path.

God’s Word is both the path and the light to see the path – the way, the truth and the light, in fact.  Light for planting our feet – ie for making decisions – not that he controls where we tread but that he gives light to us to choose where to tread.  Light like this is strong, but silent.  We’re not meant to walk in the dark – the Word should be showing us the way clearly.

I have taken an oath and confirmed it,

That I will follow your righteous laws.

Double charge!  How do we confirm our promises to God – do we back them up with sacrifice or gift?  A vow to follow this new path – the long path!  Baptism is such a time of dedication and vow and confirmation.

I have suffered much,

Preserve my life, O Lord, according to your word.

Some pains – like blisters – are simply the result of walking so far for so long.  Then there are attacks from enemies, but God’s promise is to defend and protect his pilgrims.

Accept, O Lord, the willing praise of my mouth,

And teach me your laws.

Teach me as I praise – after I praise – and only willing praise counts!

Though I constantly take my life in my hands,

I will not forget your law.

I will not focus on my own preservation or the threat to me.  I will have to willingly forget myself so that I can concentrate on the truth of your word – and I would have to willingly forget you, God, to think of myself after this praise.

The wicked have set a snare for me,

But I have not strayed from your statutes.

They have – they will have.  It’s certain.  But it doesn’t just affect me.  Everyone set on this path has these challenges.

Your statutes are my heritage for ever;

They are the joy of my heart.

Praise Him!  What an heirloom to receive from previous generations.  No wonder I am glad.  All of the people of my house – all the pleasure within me is because of your law.  Gladness and deep satisfaction has only ever come to me through your good law of forgiveness, freedom, righteousness and truth.

My heart is set on keeping your decrees

To the very end.

My heart is now set.  My decisions are made, my bag packed, emotions decided, will submitted, spirit conquered.  To the very end I will walk after you, O Lord, because of joy – the joy of inheriting your word!

Verses 97-104

Oh, how I love your law!

I meditate on it all day long.

Certainly scripture is meaning more to me – but so is his word by the Spirit.  This Psalm has been constantly in my head this weekend – the words and their lessons.  A good way to be.  Oh that my ways were steadfast – that I thought on God’s word through my working day! [I wrote this in April 2014.  It’s far too easy to condemn ourselves for ‘not reading Scripture enough’.  That feeling alone is a symptom of something disconnected in our Spirits.  I think it is and always will be a struggle to tear our minds off earthly things and truly concentrate on the Word, and because we remember the effects of studying it much more than the joy of studying and learning the word, we stop ourselves from falling in love with Scripture.  So – one of our collective priorities must be to talk about God’s word with excitement and love – the same way we gush to one another when we fall in love!]

Your commands make me wiser than my enemies,

For they are ever with me.

Able to see further, in time and space, and able to judge what is important – not just of people, but I can out-do and out-think temptation when God’s command is close to me.

I have more insight than all my teachers,

For I meditate on your statutes.

Insight – knowledge of God’s will and way arising from the spirit within each of us.  It develops with the dwelling – ruminating – Eugene Petersen would say ‘gnawing’.

I have more understanding than the elders,

For I obey your precepts.

Understanding in the mind, born of experience, develops particularly as a result of obedient experience.  This is God’s intention in giving us his commands – that we would understand him.

I have kept my feet from every evil path

So that I might obey your word.

Here is another direct walking parable.  There are paths that are evil to our intention and purpose, like Christian’s path in the Pilgrim’s Progress.  Because we long to follow God’s purpose at the great scale – to finish the race and complete the walk – we must be singleminded and turn down other distractions.  Even if not immoral, they can be evil to us if they lead us off the path.

I have not departed from our laws,

For you yourself have taught me.

So at no time have I been able to escape the effect of God’s law and his justice, since he himself has been actively engaged in my education.

How sweet are your words to my taste,

Sweeter than honey to my mouth.

Yet we have to chew to get the sweetness!  Looking at food, we never really remember how good it tastes.  God’s word is sweet remaining in our mouths, too.

I get understanding from your precepts;

Therefore I hate every wrong path.

The strength of my reaction to the paths and ways around me, splitting off from my route, is a result of my mind’s new openness to God’s word and my dwelling in his teaching.  If I continue to learn by making myself available to God, my mind will be even better able to warn me from bad paths, and more able to actually decide against them.  To have a pliable will and insight to see – that is freedom to walk wherever you want!

Verses 65-72

Do good to your servant

According to your word, O Lord.

He will only do good, since for God to do is to do good.  We can have no other expectation: he only does good and he only does it well.  Scripture is our witness to this, that he has done good since the very beginning and will continue to do good endlessly.  Scripture is to be trusted since scripture tells us of our Saviour – which no-one else and nothing else does.  So we should seek those books and points of view that reinforce our understanding and show us God being good.  And when we make ourselves his servant, this inevitable good is promised to us and his breathed Spirit confirms it.

Teach me knowledge and good judgement

for  believe in your commands. 

Faith is the key here: believing God’s word to be good makes us teachable.  Without an attitude of wonder and gratitude, we won’t ever gain understanding. Here knowledge and good judgement are inescapably paired – for without one another, each is senseless.  We are called not simply to know what is right but to exercise judgement and to use our knowledge to live differently, and so prove our faith, as James encourages.  This is God’s teaching style: first he gives us faith to believe him, then he gives us better and truer information and the opportunity to embed it by using it.  The more we follow this pattern, the more drastic the change in our life.

Before I was afflicted I went astray

But now I obey your word.

Yes indeed – conviction, shame and reshaping are God’s tools.  He does not want us astray – better afflicted with grief or suffering and on the correct path than ignorant and in bliss- stupid bliss.  Better the daily challenge to our self!  Lord, how I thank you for this time – this rest. Remain in me, O Lord, so that I may continue to find rest.

You are good and what you do is good;

Teach me your decrees.

Here is the proof!  We know God is good and free from imperfection, because we see his goodness in the things he does.  His actions are essential to him – unsurprising (once you know him well) – suited – fitting – proper – and he must act to be true to himself.  He is, after all, the Living God.  And he wants us to mirror this integrity. O God, that my deeds befitted what you have made me!  Teach me!

Though the arrogant have smeared me with lies

I keep your precepts with all my heart.

Lies are sticky, but only touch the outside.  Lying is an act of arrogance – to believe that you are bigger than the truth.  But a whole heart will survive that – and a whole heart is needed to follow God’s law, since it is not an outwardly thing but an inwardly, spiritual law of the heart.

Their hearts are callous and unfeeling

But I delight in your law.  

A heart of flesh loves instruction from God – loves being changed, being directed, being contradicted, because  it means relationship with one who is good and does only good.  A fleshly heart is keen for its own changed life, for the effects on the people around.  It is not only callous, unfeeling and insensitive to reject God’s purpose in sanctifying and changing us – it is stupid and selfish!  Stupid because we cannot pretend that faith has any other purpose, selfish because it prevents others from receiving God’s truth.  Every believer must whole-heartedly give themselves to God’s process of change.

It was good for me to be afflicted

So that I might learn your decrees.

Amen – even at a considerable price, to say this brings us determination and helps us to value what is valuable.  Because even if I knew many things previously, then I had not learnt from them because I had done little  It was good, Lord, that I should suffer and be prompted into action.  Recalled to life!

The law from your mouth is more precious to me

Than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.

Now I can say this for real.  Our true riches are the words of God spoken to us in Scripture, made living and real by his spirit.  With them comes such wisdom that we can solve problems in the world, we can change our relationships for more beautiful and worthwhile ways.  With these words come challenges to our selfishness, our egocentricity, our remaining sins.  May it ever be so, Lord God!  Not dead words recalling a past, as some think, but your living law that teaches me and explains everything I observe in the world around – your law that brings me now to an attitude of worship – shows your great love for me, Father, as so good! So good!  Amen.

Verses 57-64

You are my portion, O Lord;

I have promised to obey your words.

He is what we are allotted, now; not a thing, but a person, not a future idea or a dream of success but  relationship – this follows on from our promise to obey, and then sustains it – which began by inspiration and continues by inspiration as we give over our will to his spirit in us.

I have sought your face with all my heart

Be gracious to me according to your promise.

The writer’s past has been one of seeking God’s face – can we say it is our past too?  Our heart will divide if we do not give it over to God and still then we have to seek him – like being in love and wanting to see your friend, not being content to know they are there!  But God’s promises of grace from the beginning of all things to now are the things that will allow us to have this undivided heart.

I have considered my ways

and have turned my steps to your statutes.

That really is the only option!  To turn again onto the path and keep walking.  The statutes are a stairway in places, every step forward taking us a step up, in other places a meadow or a rocky cliff-edge.

I will hasten and not delay

to obey your commands.

It is a rush!  Like a man hurrying home, shifting his pack high.  As I read this now, I feel convicted, but I also remember the adrenalin of running after the Lord’s ways.  Do you?  Nothing else feels like that!

Though the wicked bind me with ropes,

I will not forget your law.

Like a man off the path, longing to be walking the high ways, over the hills, even though he is restrained, his mind and his spirit still travel with the Lord.  It’s not the destination, but the company…

At midnight I will rise to give you thanks

for your righteous laws.

Relevant at midnight and at all other times.  Rising in the body is good – it prepares us to rise in our spirits as well.

I am a friend to all who fear you,

to all who follow your precepts.

By virtue of the grace given to all of us – and don’t I love being in brotherhood!  Finding a new brother is sweet, and the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the brothers are wise if they set out to go walking together.

The Earth is filled with your love, O Lord,

teach me your decrees.

The view from the top of the hill.  Our response has to be awe: how did you do it, Lord?  Show me what makes you so good.  I want to be where you are!

Psalm 119 – Verses 1-8

Blessed are they whose ways are blameless,

Our ways are important to God – it’s our ways that make us stand out in the world.  And what are these blameless ways?  I think of James’ letter – Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.  (1:27)  There’s an inner and an outer dimension to this walk – and being in a way that is merciful, faithful, generous, free is to be blameless.  The Lord blesses them – and these, in this psalm, are his words of blessing.  Those who receive the blessing are those justified by faith, believing and carrying no sin.

 who walk according to the way of the Lord.

This means our walk is defined by the God’s word: his law is the definitive guide to every step and the entire trek – our stumbling, childlike toddle and our youthful racing.  The beginning of our responsibility to crawl forward like a baby, and begin to rise to our feet!

 Blessed are they who keep his statutes

and seek him with all of their heart.

To keep his law and to follow his law is to seek him.  To be obedient is to prove that you are willing to be visited by the Spirit.  The greatest treat or happiness we can have is to be in the place of seeking God.

They do nothing wrong:

they walk in his ways.

Because they don’t fear stepping out of God’s will, they know the height and width and breadth of his love for them, so his ways are explorable, free, open – what we might call free-grazing!

You have laid down precepts

that are to be fully obeyed.

Yes, commands and instructions that are only valuable when we carry them out to the end – when we complete the task and finish the race.  And to fulfil things like this – when we have no strength?  God promises to be our strength – they shall run and not grow weary – and so we don’t fulfil these instructions by the letter but by the Spirit – by God’s grace.  These precepts are foundational for us – their weight is indicated when the psalmist says ‘You have laid down…’ as if they were flagstones or paving on the road.  And this is a prophetic address to Jesus, too.  He has laid down instructions that, fully obeyed, become a firm and plain pathway to walk, to run, through life, almost fulfilling themselves in us rather than requiring us to fulfil them.

Oh that my ways were steadfast

in obeying your decrees!

After receiving revelation of the great value of God’s word, what else can we do but cry out in sorrow for our failure and in desire for their good!  This is our new heart’s cry – the Spirit of life within us cries this out to God – as did Jesus, who loved to obey his father and longed to follow his decrees, even unto death.

Then I would not be put to shame

when I consider all your commands.

Because our conscience will shame us if we think honestly – for all the commands convict us, sooner or later.  If one does, then the whole law does.  But a right sense of shame only exalts God higher, in thankfulness for Jesus and in adoration of God’s holiness.  And when we realise that it is God’s single purpose to bring about his kingdom by changing us so that we do indeed become steadfast and obedient, then we will worship even more, knowing that we can be free of shame.

I will praise you with an upright heart

as I learn your righteous laws.

The process of being shamed and of continuing is the process of learning the law of love – and our redeemed heart will continue to praise God all through the process of sanctification – all through the increasing revelation of God’s plan – even while we read this psalm.  Not a thing can happen but, taken rightly, it will lead us to praise God.

I will obey your decrees;

do not utterly forsake me.

Yes, it will happen.  My obedience to your word, O God, will happen, not because of me but because of what you have promised, again and again.  It will happen because you, yourself, are training me in righteousness.  To leave me without shame and with no conviction would be worse than to suffer correction, so do not forsake me.  What we have now from you is good for us.

Coming Soon… Psalm 119

In the first half of 2014 I made an extended Bible study as part of my devotional time with God, re-reading Psalm 119 – known to some Bibletriviaphiles as the longest chapter and Psalm in Scripture. I’ve always had a particular fondness to it, since the little red Hodder and Stoughton NIV I carried almost everyday at secondary school habitually fell open there, in the Psalms, and the second section, ‘How can a young man keep his way pure?’, spoke to me very directly.

But reading it again in the light of the path of my last two years, I’ve gained a great deal by doing more than silently thinking on it. Pray-reading has become part of my devotional discipline since May, so praying this Psalm aloud, speaking God’s truth back to Him, meant that it became more important as I gave it more power in me. (If you are unfamiliar with the discipline of pray-reading, you may know the lectio divina of the catholic tradition.) Around Christmas when I talked with my Dad, he also made a comment that Jesus, raised to know and love scripture, would have had the Psalms as his prayer and songbook – so to read them as he would have read them, letting David’s ‘I’ become directly prophetic of Jesus’ daily walk, puzzling and wondering on what gospel occasions he might have prayed these very words, reading them like this has also given them a real depth. If anything, the solemnity with which these prayers and poems were used by Jesus inspires me to treat them the same.

And at the same time I’ve experienced a re-awakening of my spiritual life, as God has brought about great changes in my life. Realising that my life’s greatest work will always be the fitting of myself for heaven – the sacrifice of my self to Jesus – the altering of my walk from a selfish one to a holy one – has meant I have discovered a new passion and insight for the wonderful work of sanctification that God works in us through the Holy Spirit. And in Psalm 119 I have found a step-by-step account of sanctification in the believer.

At the same time as studying and praying these words I have also been making real decisions about my life and acting upon them. The last year has seen my engagement to be married and my movement from employed work to self-employed work. In walking this way, Psalm 119 has been a direct guide to my thoughts and words.

To begin a brief overview of the Psalm, a word about revelation. I have learnt to distinguish between the knowledge that we can gain in our minds – the understanding of facts, causes, purposes and events that engages our intellect and our reason – from the deep understanding and knowledge that is born in the spirit. One is worldly, the other heavenly, one will pass, the other will remain forever. Intellectual understanding can lead to revelation – but it does not cause it – for revelation to the spirit of a believer is the gracious gift of God. Let me explain a little more: it is quite possible to know something to be true – for example, the promise of Jesus in Matthew 6 that our Father in heaven will provide for us – and yet to have no conviction of this and to fail to act upon it in any way so that your manner is different to those who have no faith. It is possible to understand that Jesus rose from the dead and do nothing about it – to intellectually think that this is the most reasonable reading of the evidence – and not to have it touch your heart or change the manner of your life. It is possible to know many things… But when a lesson sinks deep to touch your spirit, you must act on it – it is unbearable not to. So we see those who are moved to act in pity and love and give all their energy to charitable work when we who know that it is valuable do not. What is the difference between them and us? That their understanding is a spiritual understanding – that it is more than their head knowing that this is true, but their very being assents to it.

This then is real teaching, real education. This is also real growth. No-one – in this life – can bear all, and we need not feel guilty for not being touched or moved by those things that move others. But conviction within us can be a sign that our spirit longs to be involved – and that conviction is God’s greatest gift to us for daily guidance.

So when reading Scripture we are instructed not simply to look at it, think about it and apply it theoretically, but to actively invite revelation.

How can we do this? How can we overcome ourselves and make ourselves available to God – for in his mercy and grace, he is always willing to give?

Firstly we must ask – with words and actions. He may expect us to ‘prove’ that we are ready – which may actually consist of acting, physically, to replace the normally dominant mind with a more balanced internal hierarchy, in which the Spirit of God within us calls to God our Father. Personally, I aim for this rebalancing through the following spiritual disciplines: prayer walks, when in the country; prayer in tongues, when travelling, feeling short of time, in company, or wanting to include some daily act such as preparing food as part of my prayer; kneeling, bowing and lying down, when in congregation or in private, to express my awe and obedience particularly; singing, in almost all circumstances; dancing, in privacy and increasingly in congregation; pray-reading or lectio-divina, which is challenging but very valuable; making a sacrifice of time, money or something valuable to me by giving it away, less frequently than I should!

In general, the revelation I have received from the Psalm is this: obedience to God’s law, which we now understand in the new covenant, changes a person so as to bring about decisive action in them, which in turn leads to experience, often struggles and suffering as we overcome the remaining human nature and become less worldly, but these pains allow us to understand with our spirit and receive God’s revelation, which makes us more like Jesus, our perfect model, and makes us more dependent upon God’s Word, which we need to teach us the more we find the wisdom of the world will not suit our changed way of life, and also causes us to enjoy and desire God’s law with greater fervour, bringing about more obedience. To me, this is a beautifully clear teaching method that can never be completed in this life, only the speed of our travel upon the path changed, for once engaged, the effects upon us are indelible. It is the work of re-creation, of sanctification in its simplicity and beauty and starkness and severity. At times, God wishes to show us subtle things, at others, to confront us with harsh truths and necessary sacrifices. And his simple entry route for us is pure obedience – to believe in God and in the one he has sent.