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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

What He Paints for You

One of the benefits of going to a small college is the small library that goes with it. Normally, I probably would not count this as a blessing, but it definitely has its upside. For one thing, The lack of shelf space and the constant need to bring in new books means that dozens of books are available for purchase at all times. As a book lover and a penny-pincher, I am always thrilled to find a nice old hardback for a dollar. Consequently, I am starting to collect a nice library of exegetical works. I think my Biblical Interpretation teacher would be glad to see the unsightly piles of books that are starting to collect on top of my desk, on chairs, beside my bed, and any other flat surface that can hold books.

     Often, I find that old books are more relevant than new books! I suppose ideas that are tried by time show themselves for what they are worth. I love gleaning insight from authors long gone, and I imagine them sitting next to me and speaking their words to me. What is it about the writing style of long ago that seems so much more personal than today’s writing? I have never been able to identify with the “you” that is addressed by new books, but the “you” spoken to by old books always seems to be me and no one else.

     Before school closed for the semester, I bought Expositions of the Holy Scriptures: Psalms I-CXLV by Andrew MacLaren. I can’t tell you how old it is, just that it’s old enough to not have a copyright date. I’m using it with my devotions, since I am reading through Psalms, and I thought that you might enjoy one of a few treasures I found in it (I feel like Pride and Prejudice’s Mary with her “extracts” right now).

     Oh! If we would only see clearly and habitually before us—for we could if we would—what God’s heart inclines for His to do for us, in the far-off future, if we would only let Him, do you not think that these trifles that put us off our equanimity this morning would have been borne with a little more composure?”

Oh dear. Sometimes it can be so hard to see the big picture. Oh, trust me, I know. When I commit one social faux pas after another, cut my fingers while cleaning, mistranslate between languages, drag my hair through degreaser and spend two hours trying to fix a lemonade machine all in one day, I have a tough time seeing the big picture. I have to remember that the important thing is not that I achieve perfection. It is not that I stop tripping over my tongue, stay perfectly neat and understand how to do everything on the first try. I will never manage that! The important thing is that even in the little things, I can “set my mind on things above, not on earthly things.” Then the little frustrations will fade away and I will be left standing in awe of the awesomeness of God’s plan.

So “in the middle of your little mess, don’t forget how big you’re blessed.” God is creating a beautiful picture with your life! He uses the bad times and the good times alike, whether trivial or tremendous. As you watch the Master Artist work, you may be fixated on one gray streak of paint and wonder why He used such a sad color. Then, when you step back, you will see that it was a shadow to make something white and shining stand out in all its glory! A painting with only pinks and yellows would be a boring picture. It takes the blue and browns of life to make it beautiful.

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