My life began in a country town in Western Australia. My family attended a Baptist Church. It was every Sunday because my father was a very disciplined person and for him church attendance was an important part of the rhythm of life.
It was a time when children remained for the whole of the service. To pass the time I would finger through the hymnbook. It was like nothing else I had ever seen. I did not understand the hymns but something about them beckoned me.
I noted the hymn had the writer’s name below and even the dates of when they lived. It was hard to believe they were sung hundreds of years ago.
Although my town was remote by some standards, church provided a window to the outside world. Following the war, it became possible for churches to have travelling speakers, so there were visits from preachers, Bible Society representatives, missionaries and evangelists.
In my youth there were many illnesses that went around. But the one I feared most was Infantile Paralysis, as we then called it. We now call it “Polio”. On the news would be reports on how far the epidemic had reached. Many parts of Australia were affected, but it did not reach our town.
Now of course there is a vaccine, so its threat is greatly reduced. But then I listened to the news with great anxiety.
At a church meeting I responded to what was called “the Gospel call.” Opening the Bible at various points I began to get some understanding, but there was still a sense of mystery about large parts of it. And I still had a sense of anxiety.
As I got older I got to hear about “The Gospel Bookshop” in Murray street Perth. It was very plain and run by a no nonsense elderly lady. It was a time when the book industry was recovering from wartime shortages, so books did not have the glossy covers they have today.
Someone offered the excellent suggestion that when buying a book, one should pencil in the date of purchase so that in future years it would be possible to trace my spiritual progress. One book I did not need to purchase was “Problems of Christian Discipleship” by JO Sanders.
A great read
When I was home a visiting missionary left it with the family. No one else seemed interested in the book, so I made it my own! I was taken by the chapter headings and how the author addressed difficulties in life with Bible verses, lines of poetry, hymns and quotations from saints of the past who had to wrestle with particular problems.
I was particularly impressed with Jesus’s response to Peter when the disciple complained to his Lord about his lot compared with another disciple: “What is that to you. Just follow me.”
In later years I was still conscious of a large degree of uncertainty and weakness in my life. Then I made the discovery of Martyn Lloyd-Jones who said we should gain full assurance of faith by seeking a special work of the Holy Spirit to bring Scripture deep into the heart and mind and get rid of the vacillations and uncertainties that undermine us.
The Spirit did not come in a vivid way but with the passing of time I realized that my Christian experience was becoming steadier and richer.
In my earlier life it seemed so important to determine whether I should be “here” or “there”. Now it seems that it is more important what we are than what we do. I am still conscious of the need to grow in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. That will be ongoing.
“When once Thou visitest the heart,
Then truth begins to shine;
Then earthly vanities depart,
Then kindles love divine.”
From Latin, 12th cent. From the hymn, “O Jesus, King most wonderful.” tr. Edward Caswall.
I am now 82, my profession, a long time ago, was in dentistry initially in Perth, then Melbourne – very rewarding. Rex Is married to Faye. Rex has two sons and seven grandchildren.
The book I wrote “INSIGHTS - from Greco-Roman times” which is also regularly utilised as young writer ‘awards’ - considers what people did to bring meaning and order to their lives, especially how they achieved inward calm in the ancient world prior to Christ.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand. Dr Mark Tronson’s Press Service International in 2019 was awarded the Australasian Religious Press Association’s premier award, The Gutenberg.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html