Maol Iosa – Diary
For an explanation of the title and why we are publishing this diary, please see the first entry (27/3/13). Maol Iosa = servant or follower of Jesus. I should make clear that the 2012 entries were written last year on the day of the events described or on the day after. Today I make a mental note that I should learn more about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was hanged by the Nazis, and the way he believed Christ operates in the world and in the life of the believer. In letters he wrote from prison on the 18th & 21st July 1944 he said things like: “It is not the religious act which makes a Christian, but participation in the sufferings of God in worldly life … not in meditation upon one’s own problems, questions, anxiety, but by allowing oneself to be caught up on the way of Jesus Christ, in the messianic event, is Isaiah 53 fulfilled! … There is nothing of religious method here. The ‘religious act’ is always something partial: faith is something whole, an act of one’s life. Jesus does not call men to a new religion, but to life.” Bonhoeffer was executed on the April 9th 1945 at Flossenbürg. His idea of the Christian being part of and suffering with the world is extremely interesting.

Sunday 8th July 2012 (10)

We were in church both ends. A friend came for lunch. He hadn’t been to a Free Church service for 6 years. He came with us for the evening service and the sermon spoke powerfully to him. I had been telling him the story of a service we had been to, at which our minister Rev. MacLean officiated. This was before I became a Christian or in the process of me becoming a Christian. The morning service used to be in Gaelic in Staffin. Now they’re in English but they still sing a couple of verses of a Gaelic psalm at the evening service, usually the last psalm. The verses the minister chose were verses 3 & 4 of psalm 37 which go: “Set thou thy trust upon the Lord / and be thou doing good; / And so thou in the land shall dwell / and verily have food. Delight thyself in God; he’ll give / thine heart’s desire to thee. / Thy way to God commit, him trust, / it bring to pass shall he.

We sang these verses in English and the same two verses in Gaelic at the end. I thought it strange that he should have chosen the same verses twice. But they were significant for me. Unknown to the minister, my father, twenty or thirty years before, had written down these verses and given them to me, as if they were specifically for me. My father lived to the age of 92 but he only did that the once. The verses, therefore, hit me with a great significance, particularly because they were sung twice that day in the church and the minister couldn’t possibly have known of their significance for me.

Our friend came to church with us and he joked “as long as there’s not a doubling for me.” The sermon was based on Luke 9: 62 “No-one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” The preacher stressed the need to look to the furrow ahead and not to be looking back. Otherwise the furrow wouldn’t be straight. The words appeared to have made an impact on our friend for he said in the car on the way back home “I put my hand to the plough 15 years ago.” But that wasn’t all, the Gaelic verses we had at the end of the service were Psalm 103: 1-2. We felt the presence of the Lord as they were being sung. Then before he read the intimations and did the benediction the minister said, “Don’t close your Bibles, we’ll be singing again.” We sang the same verses again and for me they were even more powerful the second time. We laughed coming out of church, laughed with joy for the way God reveals himself.

But a footnote to the verses my father gave me. Margaret and I told the story in the book we wrote together but in 2011, after the book was written, a rather beautiful thing happened. Margaret found a framed plaque, which she had forgotten she had, in a drawer in the bedroom. She had been given it when she left Surrey where she was working as a nurse in the 1980s. Imagine our surprise at the words on the plaque! They were: “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” It felt that yet again the Lord was going before us.

Despite all the suffering and waiting we are going through, we are convinced that he is in the middle of everything that is happening. We do indeed delight ourselves in the Lord!