It wasn’t the “last supper” but the men assembled in the upper room of Bridges were tucking into their breakfast feast as if it was to be their last meal and so many came along, Andrew sacrificially did without. After our gastronomic delight we retired to the library where we joined together in worship prior to Rob Ellen sharing a brief history of his life.
Rob Ellen and his family started coming to Strathmore CF a number of months ago and it has been a delight to have them worshiping with us.
Rob started with some verses of scripture, 1 Cor 12:12-17,highlighting “God has placed the parts of the body, every one of them, just as He wanted them to be.” This scripture reminds us that no matter how insignificant we may feel in the church, God has made us the way he wants us to be and has placed us there deliberately. We’re all needed to perform different functions for the church body to work properly.
As a child, Rob found the church boring and irrelevant. Instead, he studied science and logic and became a firm atheist, believing that science had disproven God’s existence. He took great delight in arguing with Christians. He joined the RAF in 1985 and went to university in Edinburgh to study Engineering. During the summer break, he had just entered a pub with a Christian friend and was looking forward to a beer and a debate. At this point, unknown to Rob, his friend prayed and asked God to open his eyes – and God answered. While he was sitting at his table waiting for his beer, God challenged him directly; “I’m here. What are you going to do about it?” As an atheist, this was a life-changing event! Rob became a Christian.
God taught Rob a great deal during his time at University, including showing him how to test and verify everything to separate facts from opinion, whether scientific or in matters of faith. This rekindled his love of science and as an engineer he has found that instead of science disproving God, it actually reveals God’s incredible engineering.
While at university, he was involved in a serious car crash on a nearly deserted road. A stolen car ran a red light and hit the side of the car he was in at high speed; both cars were utterly destroyed. The only other car on the road was full of Christians, who had immediately started praying when they saw the speeding car. The police arrived at the scene and expected to find bodies but were amazed to find that there were no serious injuries. The next day, Rob had another transformational encounter with God. He reminded him of Ephesians 6:14-17 (putting on the armour of God). To his surprise, God took his shield of faith and give him a sword of steel. Rob questioned the loss of his shield and God said to him “I am your shield” – having just been saved from being hit by 2 tons of steel, he had to accept the truth of this.
This also changed Rob’s understanding of faith. Rather than the description in Hebrews 11, his understanding comes from the Centurion in Matthew 8. Jesus equated the Centurion’s understanding of military authority as having the greatest faith in all Israel. In the RAF, Rob was also a man under authority with people under his command, so he understood that faith wasn’t hoping harder or believing more, it was just accepting that God had given Jesus his authority, so if Jesus said something would happen, then it would happen.
Rob’s favourite book of the bible is Job and he used Job 38:1-5 to show God telling Job off for questioning His actions. Rob highlighted that in human terms we have to do what our bosses tell us, even if we disagree, because they have a different perspective. If we are told why, we can understand their view, but God’s perspective is so much greater than ours that we couldn’t comprehend it. If He doesn’t act the way we think he should, we don’t have the capacity to understand why, so we have to just accept it – God is God, and we’re not.
Rob hadn’t intended to speak about his third transformational encounter with God, but felt that God wanted him to. While recovering from a serious illness, God simply told him He loved him – with a depth of love that embraced and accepted him with all his many faults, unconditionally. Rob felt God wanted him to finish his talk with a slide of what He had said during his 3 transformational encounters over the last 30 years: