I collect words.
I hadn’t seen it quite this way before, but in this getting ready to move process I’ve been going through all our possessions--sorting, sifting, tossing and boxing. And one thing has become obvious, I am packing a lot of words away!
My boxes are full of them. It’s almost embarrassing to assemble all my journals in one place…’Put them all in one box’ an organizational guru friend suggested. Well, that’s not happening. I could never lift such a box safely! And once the journals are stowed away, there are still the ‘notes’ in pocket-size handmade books that practically fill a shoe box, and the school notebooks at a rate of 5 children plus one teacher (me) times 13 years of learning together at home.
And when I’ve stowed away all my words, interlaced as they are with copious amounts of God’s word copied out, well then I come to the books—other people’s words. The bulk of them are non-fiction, mostly by Christian authors--books that teach and counsel, that interpret and celebrate God’s words. Yes, it’s for sure, I collect words. The evidence is all around me as I write, on boxes emblazoned in permanent black ink: “BOOKS--Hymn books, Family Room”; “School Notes”; NOTEBOOKS to Store…There’s no denying that I collect words, but this is beyond collecting; this is hoarding!
I’ve been challenged lately, as I sort, box, and toss things, by my undeniable propensity to hoard. We have such excess! You’d think God’s provision for us had ended and we were never going to get another thing, so better hoard all we come across now. Oh, we justify it, I justify it, as being frugal, practical, smart, prepared, even wise. We are faithful stewards, right? But have I been generous? It’s one thing to find a good deal. It’s another to keep it for myself!
It has been good to ponder aloud here in cyber-space and to let a trickle of words flow out from my many journals---words that have brought me fortification and hope and encouragement and challenge.
This morning before I launch into a day packed with things requisite to our leave-taking in a couple days, I want to pass on some words I’ve collected this week. They come from one of my very favorite Bible stories—the time God’s people marched forth singing to face the enemies that greatly outnumbered them.
But before that there’s the reality of the situation-- ‘a great multitude is coming against you’ , and the fear it incited-- “Then Jehoshaphat was afraid”, and the determination to seek the Lord’s counsel—“and set his face to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast”( II Chronicles 20:2-4).
I love the way the king prays. There’s nothing of mysticism here, or some impersonal canned prayer to an unseen force. He speaks to God as though He were personally present right there in the temple. He speaks to Him as a person, ‘a very present help in time of need’. He reiterates God’s greatness—‘in your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you’ and His promises to hear and save His people in their distresses. He concludes with that memorable verse:
“For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
I have an inkling of that feeling. I can’t see the enemy ranging around us as we make this move into a lot of unknowns, trusting God to direct our steps. But the possibilities of how we might be tripped up is endless. The fears that rise unbidden are real. And I want to learn to talk to God like King Jehoshaphat does in this passage… Here’s our situation. We know who You are God, we’ve seen what You’ve done in the past, we anticipate what You will do for us now, though we can’t really imagine it. Our eyes are on You; lead on.
And of course the story just keeps getting better. If you haven’t read it lately, do! It’s at your fingertips here, II Chronicles 20.
God speaks as the people stand there in anticipation: “Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s”
“You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf…Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the LORD will be with you.” (20:15-17)
So first thing in the morning they were up and at ‘em with the king’s words ringing in their ears: “Believe in the LORD your God and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed” and as the army went out the king appointed singers to go ahead of them singing and praising in holy attire: “Give thanks to the LORD, for his steadfast love endures forever”
And the enemy pretty much self-destructed; God ambushed them and they destroyed each other! And His people collected the spoil.
Again, they were reminded that God was with them and for them, a strong and good Shepherd mindful of their needs and intimately acquainted with all their ways. I need that these days. And I need to march forward singing in my heart and giving thanks always, “for his steadfast love endures forever”
Can I invite you to hold us up in your prayers in the next little while, that we would be a credit to the Shepherd we call our own. We are His sheep. I’m donning my wool and gathering words to carry along.
Do you know this old chorus? It sings through my mind restoring me to peace quite often. I commend it to you:
HIS SHEEP AM I
In God's green pastures feeding, by His cool waters lie;
Soft in the evening walk my Lord and I.
All the sheep of His pastures fare so wondrously fine,
His sheep am I.
Waters cool, (In the valley)
Pastures green, (On the mountain)
In the evening walk my Lord and I;
(In the evening walk my Lord and I)
Dark the night, (In the valley)
Rough the way, (On the mountain)
Step by step my Lord and I.
(Step by step my Lord and I)
“Believe in the LORD your God and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed” II Chr. 20:20