Saturday, January 31, 2009

"To Lilian"

I had no intention of buying a book. I have more than enough books in the house that I have yet to read, but seeing as I was in a bookshop, a second hand bookshop at that, I had a muse about the shelves.

What attracted me to this particular book was not the title “Twelve Sermons for the Troubled and the Tried”, nor the author, Charles Spurgeon. It was the handwritten note at the top of the title page “To Lilian…13/10/81” There were at least half a dozen “Twelve Sermon…” books in a series, one placed right next to the other. All of them carried the inscription “To Lilian.” Only the date was different in each case.

I wondered who Lilian was. I wondered whether Lilian had actually read the books. I know that I am one for buying books, even books of a favourite author, and dipping into them as interesting chapter headings capture my interest. I don’t always read a book from cover to cover.

I wondered if, when reading one of the sermons, how much she had been touched by the words. There are times when I pick up a book, turn to a chapter, and the words written there speak a truth to my heart that almost hurts as it cuts deep. I wondered if Lilian had any kinds of those moments when she read the books.

Reading through the early chapters of the book of Exodus, and seeing how Pharaoh kept hardening his heart, and refused to hear the truth, even when it was spoken by his magicians and sorcerers, even when it was believed and acted upon by some of his officials, I don’t want to be like him. I don’t want to be faced with God’s word and have too hard a heart not to be touched by it.

Reading my recently purchased book over a cup of coffee in yet another newly opened coffee shop in the city centre, my attention was caught by these words.

“God never gave us faith to play with. It is a sword, but it was not made for presentation on a gala day, nor to be worn on state occasions only, nor to be exhibited upon a parade ground. It is a sword that is meant to cut and wound and slay; and he that has the grit about him may expect, between here and heaven, that he shall know what battle means…His gift of faith to you is a hint that you will want it; that at certain points and places you will especially require it, and that at all points, and in every place, you will really need it…and if God is to give thee great faith thou must expect great trials…Little boats may keep close to the shore, as becomes little boats, but if God make thee a great vessel, and load thee with a rich freight, he means that thou shouldst know what great billows are and should feel their fury till thou seest His wonders in the deep. ”

I crave safety too often, and spurn the great vessel in favour of the small boat keeping close to the shore, and when I do so my faith is so much the poorer for it!

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