“People are meant to live in an ongoing conversation with God, speaking and being spoken to.” Dallas Willard - from his book, Hearing God. (InterVarsity Press)
I was not in the best frame of mind as I was processing children’s books at work (the library). The week before I had not been given the “all clear” signal I had been hoping and praying for during a follow-up medical appointment. The prognosis wasn’t definitively dire, but my little hamster mind wanted to rehearse with me all the “what-ifs” - over and over and over again.
The night before I had read that “Nothing is more central to the practical life of the Christian than confidence in God’s individual dealings with each person.” (Dallas Willard - Hearing God.) On my drive to work that morning I had poured out my fears to God, and was simply waiting for how God was going to deal with me. But the voice of fear was a terrible distraction.
I picked up my first book of the work day. It was the first in a series of children’s books that had been given to the library in memory of a loved one. As I entered the “date in the ditch” (our record inside the physical copy of a book of where and when it was purchased), I noticed that the inscription on the right-hand page included Psalm 27. A dear friend had sent me this Psalm when she had been praying for me over this recent health-alarm, and our Bible study group had closed the previous night’s study by standing and praying that very psalm out loud. “Wow!” I thought. What a coincidence.
Once I finished processing that book, I opened the next. This time the inscription included Isaiah 40:31: “but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” I sat up straighter. Isaiah 40:31 has been a very significant verse to me, ever since the time, years ago, when I had a near-death experience. This was the verse God used to keep my life-spark from extinguishing. (Along with excellent medical intervention.)
When I opened the third book and found Psalm 23 in the inscription, I thought I’d better record what was happening. It felt like God was dealing with me “as an individual.”
The fourth and final inscription in that series was Psalm 113.
My mind got off the hamster wheel, and I was thanking God as I picked up the next book to process. It was the first in another children’s series. When I cracked it open to insert the “date in the ditch,” I found an inscription in Latin. It was “Quaerite primum regnum Dei”- “Seek first the Kingdom of God.”
The next book was inscribed: “Nunc scio qui sit amor, salutem in arduis esse. Vivat crescat floreat!” - “Now I know what love is, a stronghold in trouble. May it live, grow, and flourish!” (I think... I found it more challenging to find a translation for this one.)
The inscription in the last of that series was “Deo adjuvante non timendum” - “With God’s help we won’t fear.”
I had spoken with God. I had honestly expressed my fear, and earnestly requested God’s comfort.
God spoke back. God is gracious and compassionate - even with the weak.