On a beautiful, warm, sunny evening - Friday 7 June 2019 - WFM Western Isles held their 13th Annual Event in the Caberfeidh Hotel, on the outskirts of Stornoway.
Friends and acquaintances were greeted warmly. The Baking Stall, laden with delicious fare was doing a brisk trade as was the Craft Stall with its display of fine items. In the Dining Room, which was so beautifully arranged by the staff of the Caberfeidh, our Chairperson, Donna Maciver welcomed everyone in her own inimitable style and invited Fiona Maclean to say the grace. A feast was then laid before us by a very slick team, and we ate our fill.
Praise was then led by Sheila Nicolson whose rich voice encouraged us all to sing praises to our Lord from Psalm 80.
Donna then outlined news of last year’s fundraising and outlined the projects for which we will be fundraising this coming year.
Our solo singer for the evening was Katy Graham, who sang two beautiful items of praise – one in English and one in Gaidhlig. What a wonderful gift she has.
Our guest speaker for the evening was Megan Patterson. She has several years’ experience working in Benin Republic, West Africa, also in Niger and Burkina Faso, along with her husband, Jim. Currently she works as an Education Consultant with SIM (Serving in Mission), engaging with teachers worldwide. Her passion is to help Christian teachers think about the impact of worldview on classroom life. She regularly runs seminars in biblical worldview for teachers, globally.
She and her husband have two adult children and four grandchildren. She lives in Livingston with her husband and daughter.
The title of Megan’s presentation was Listening to the Shepherd’s Voice. Here is a brief outline of her presentation.
She began by relating a conversation she had with a young man in the ETS library. She asked him what he was going to do when he finished his studies, to which he replied that he didn’t know, but that he was willing to do anything. “That’s great” she replied, “the Lord will open a door for you” Then she asked her audience if it was right to say that to the young man. Is it hard to discern what God wants us to do in the big decisions of life e.g. where to work, where to live, who to marry? What about everyday decisions like should we invite friends round for dinner, and if so, what should we give them to eat?
She asked “What is the prompting of the Spirit and what is our own inclination and is it possible for the two to be the same? What about the evil one? Does he mess with our heads and drown out the still small voice of the Lord?”
John 10 v 27 says "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me. If we are His then we can say “The Lord is my shepherd. What a kind and tender Master! He knows me. He knows which gifts He has given me; He knows my weaknesses better than I do, He doesn’t taunt me or play games with me. He leads me beside quiet waters.”
Yet we tie ourselves in knots, trying to make decisions. A helpful hint is to use the G. TEST. We should ask ourselves these three questions:-
“Is this to God’s glory?” “Is this for other’s good?” “Will this lead to my spiritual growth?”
Psalm 27 v 4 helps us to become attuned to God’s voice, as does Isaiah 2 v 3 and Proverbs 3 v 5 and 6. God also speaks to us in the world he has created as in Psalm 19 v 2, 3, 4. We are living in the theatre of God’s glory. Look how great and powerful and beautiful He is. Our shepherd, the one whose voice we want to listen to was there when God established the clouds above and fixed securely the fountains of the deep – Proverbs 8 v 28, 29, 30.
She is often asked how she and her husband came to work in Benin in French –speaking West Africa. Jim, her husband, failed French at school but he met her, a French teacher and they became friends when Jim wanted to learn French. Jim is a water engineer and the people in Benin were short of drinking water. The local church wanted to help provide water and introduce them to Jesus, the living water, at the same time. So, the couple were invited and off they went!
What is the relationship between becoming captivated by the beauty and glory of Jesus and listening to his voice? When we are gripped with the glory of Jesus, when we know that He is King and that this world is not our home and that we are made for another world, then decision-making isn’t complicated. But, obedience sometimes is. Love leads to obedience. We sheep follow the Master we love, he who first loved us. We read in Hebrews 5 that during the days of Jesus’s life on Earth he offered up petitions and prayers with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death and he was heard because of his reverent submissions. Although he was a son he learned obedience from what he suffered. If Jesus learned obedience through what he suffered, so must we. So often the issue isn’t knowing what to do it is wanting to do it.
God’s revealed will tell us what to pray in Luke 10 v 2. His revealed will tells us how to live in Matt. 28 v 18. His revealed will is crystal clear. It is not a matter of not knowing in our part it is a matter of obeying.
Then there is God’s secret will, made known in his providence. Sometimes we make plans and God turns them upside down. Proverbs 16 v 9 says “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”
But God only permits what we are able to endure, by His grace. She told that the most painful experiences has been in connection with her daughter’s emotional and physical health, which meant they had to return home from Benin.
Megan brought her presentation to a close by reading Psalm 27. Then followed a short Question and Answer session.
Shona Davidson brought the evening to a close by giving a vote of thanks to all involved in making the evening such a success.