The Rakestraws Are Moving South!
Ponderings, No. 7 (February 6, 2018)
Robert V. Rakestraw, PhD
Where are the Rakestraw’s Moving?
Judy and I will be moving to Phoenix on March 4. Since early September, 2017, I have known that a major change was in our near future. Worsening health for both of us (Judy’s Alzheimer’s and my breathing problems) is the reason for our move, which is not due to climate differences. We will always love and miss Minnesota, and we will dearly miss our daughter Laurie and her very special family. We will also miss the many, many dear friends we have come to know during our thirty years in Minnesota. (We moved here in 1988 when I joined the faculty of Bethel Theological Seminary.)
We are moving to Phoenix because Judy has sisters there and a brother (an M.D.) who comes to Phoenix regularly. Judy and I will start out in a two-bedroom apartment of our own. We are grateful to our Lord who is working all things together for this major event. We even have a buyer for our house already.
God willing we will make contact with you again after we are settled in Phoenix. Our e-mail address will remain email@example.com. Love and God’s richest blessings to each of you reading this! I trust that the coming posts on the GQM website will minister to you greatly. The following is the first installment of a new sub-category of Ponderings titled “Your Rutttor for Life.” With my worsening health, everything I write now comes from my deep longing to teach men and women and boys and girls concerning the most important issues in anyone’s life. To me, these are the ultimate issues!
“Your Rutttor for Life – Part One”
There is something exciting about a boat – even a small one – moving forward on the water! I grew up around boats, mostly small pleasure craft with outboard or inboard motors. Neither I nor my family ever owned a boat, but every time I got to ride on the water – even in a canoe or on a raft – I was a very happy boy. When I was steering I was the most happy!
Almost all of my boating experience was during my childhood, when I lived next to a yacht club on the Delaware River in Philadelphia, but for all my life since then I have enjoyed observing and riding on watercraft of all kinds. To me, boats are most interesting when they are moving forward. A boat tied to a dock or anchored does not draw my attention very much, and a vessel wandering aimlessly on the water, seemingly rudderless, is a sorry sight.
I find it helpful to think of myself as a ship moving over the waters of life. Perhaps this analogy will be helpful to you also. Sometimes the waters are placid, sometimes rough, and sometimes violent. The times of smooth sailing are delightful and the times of tempest can be horrendous, but most of life is navigated somewhere between these waters. However, when we do not have a firm grip on our rudder – our steering mechanism – the ship of our life flounders and our voyage is unnecessarily turbulent. It can even end in disaster.
For much of my life I have used the expression “Trust and Obey” as the rudder of my life: the best summary of my life responsibilities as a Christian. If I will simply believe (trust in) God’s written word – especially his promises – and obey the teachings and commands therein, I will be doing what I need to be doing throughout my lifetime. I cannot begin to count the times this remarkable “formula” has guided me (sometimes as a chorus I sing aloud or in my mind) as the supreme, God-given rudder for my journey, and I cannot think of a more helpful three-word guide for anyone in any stage or condition of life.
Over the past year, however, I have come to realize that the words “trust and obey” may be even more helpful, to me and others, if I expanded the ideas behind them. So God has led me, I believe, to the acronym Rutttor, pronounced just like the rudder on a ship. The ideas came first, then the curious-looking word with three “t’s” at the center. I am excited to share this new rudder with you! My explanation of each letter will be brief, but each concept will, I trust, help you greatly.
READ. The letter R is for Read. I realize that people – in the United States at least – are reading less and less all the time. They may read text-messages, tweets, Facebook, and other social media, but rarely serious articles or books, unless these are required reading for their work or school. But I am convinced that those who never or seldom read serious (not necessarily long) materials are likely having a difficult time finding a strong rudder for their lives.
If you read nothing else (although I hope you do), please read the Bible! This volume with its sixty-six remarkable books is the only God inspired and infallible rudder for your life. Apart from dreams, visions, and other rare divine activities, the biblical books are the only error-free means that God has chosen to reveal himself to humanity throughout the ages. We all desperately need to know this volume! If you don’t know where to read, start at the Gospel of John and read to the end of the Bible. Or start with Philippians and move along from there.
If you are burdened, as I am, about the many around the world who have never learned to read, or do not have the Bible translated into their language, pray, give, and go, as God leads you, to take an active part in Bible translation work, the remarkable ministries of audio and audio-visual versions, and the task of training teachers and pastors who will instruct their non-reading people in both reading skills and understanding the priceless Word of God.
I strongly believe you will benefit most if you read whole books of the Bible straight through, rather than reading only or primarily “selections” from the scriptures. Every line of the Bible is God’s written revelation to you and me, and we should honor both God and the human authors – the ones whom God led so remarkably – by reading each book as it has been preserved for us, so that the scriptures will make the greatest impact on us for good.
The important point is not how much you read each day, although reading several chapters at a time, for example, is a very valuable discipline to help see the forest as a whole. When you read a shorter portion on some days – the individual trees – do this in the order of the verses as they are written. So, read for quantity at times, but also read for intensity and specifics – even one sentence or phrase — until you choose to move on.
[I must add that the devotional guide Daily Light On The Daily Path is and has been for many years a truly outstanding guide to millions of God’s people. It is all scripture, each page on a different biblical theme. This recommendation may seem to contradict what I have just written above, but all I will say about that matter now is to urge you to buy it and try it. The compiler spent a great many hours in prayer and seeking God’s direction concerning which verses to gather together for each page. I have read this guide many times over the years, along with my Bible reading as discussed above, and consider it the most important book in shaping my life next to the Bible itself.]
I wish I could shout from the rooftops how valuable reading the Bible is, especially when we pray before we begin, so that we are open to hearing God’s message for us right now with a mind and heart to trust and obey all that the Spirit of God reveals to us. Do not fret about what you don’t understand, but focus on what you do see and are convinced of. This first step of RUTTTOR will work wonders to steer you safely over the seas of your life! “Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble” (Ps. 119:165).
This item may be found, along with other articles and essays, on Dr. Rakestraw’s website www.gracequestministries.org, where you may sign up to receive automatically postings such as these and where you may order some of his books. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.