God spoke a word and you were you.
God spoke another word and I was me.
God doesn’t waste breath.
As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
We have our assignments.
Have you turned yours in yet?
on the first draft? Revising? Editing?
waiting for just the right time?
the really write time to put pen to paper?
What is the assignment God has spoken in you?
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. ~ Isaiah 55:10-11
God doesn’t leave blanks in the grade Book of Life.
Grandfather wrote his own Preface, so let’s begin there.
“The spectacle of sermons in print has been compared to a visit to a mortuary for the purpose of viewing a departed friend. What we cherished — the smile, the personality, even the mannerisms are all gone, leaving only the cold and lifeless remains.”
Ah, preaching is a spoken art. It’s all about delivery and eye contact and intonation. There’s more to it than the words. How can that possibly convey when all we have left is printed type? I wonder if the Biblical writers ever had this foreboding. Just words, what will they have to say, what possible pleasure could they give, to someone who never knew me, never saw me, never heard me?
Yet, Grandfather did have them typed out thanks to “Mrs. Orlando Berg for the suggestion that his manuscripts be turned ‘into printer’s copy.'” That despite her overcrowded secretarial schedule she found time to prepare the typescript and enlisted three others (mentioned by name) in the “arduous task.” To them Dr. Rilling offers his “warmest gratitude” for “our book.”
And it’s in the “our” that I suspect he took comfort and drew confidence. What Dr. Rilling knew, and what wisdom and knowledge he drew from, were due to others – many others. He writes, “Every author draws upon the stored up wisdom of the past in others’ books and finds his better thoughts coming from the living encounter of mind with mind.”
We are what we read, as in many ways we are what we eat, provided we don’t spit it out, but manage to chew it a bit and subject it to our powers of digestion. Dr. Rilling sought to lend the product of his preaching to the nutritional climate of his day, that the good of it might nourish others and provide sustenance for their days.
But he didn’t come to this conclusion on his own. It grew out of the “thrilling encounter of weekly worship in a congregation whose hunger for the Word of God is a constant challenge and encouragement.”
Wow. Would I say that my weekly worship is thrilling?
(Personal aside: I love his word choice here, as I used to introduce myself saying, “Hi, I’m Wendy Rilling, that’s thrilling without the ‘th.'” Not to influence your opinion of me, but hey, at least you may remember me.)
But back to thrilling worship… would I say that my hunger for the Word of God challenges and encourages my pastor? Have I even considered that we are partners in this endeavor, he/she and I? That I have a responsibility to come with my questions, respond with my doubts, and take my enthusiasm to the study the Word of God on my own?
Well, this congregation apparently did, and so Grandfather, in his gratitude, said this is not “my” book, this is “our” book. Rather, it is the story of the group of us finding meaning and purpose in The Book. It is not a spoon feeding to helpless infants, but a meal set before discriminating patrons. Dr. Rilling is around the table with these, and even perhaps sees himself at the head of this table with the responsibility to pay the bill — which he most certainly knew he didn’t have in cash.
This book is his payment in full. In story, in prayer, in wisdom, in lesson, and in the telling of it all, laid out in cold type, it is anything but dead. It is as alive for me today, as I can only imagine it was to its original hearers.
To him and to them I express my warmest gratitude.
Here are my most recent highlights from the Upper Room magazine devotional reading and writing. Just me and my daily doodlings, courtesy of the little book that reaches around the world. That God, He is always slipping in a good word when we’re not looking.
It is human nature to want to push the limits of what the law allows. But Jesus tells us that even thinking about breaking a law is breaking that law. (When God makes the law, stepping a millimeter beyond it means you’re standing in sin.)
Once my father grafted a pear-tree branch into an apple tree. In time, the grafted branch produced fruit that looked like an apple but tasted like a pear. (On God’s tree, I’m still me!)
When God calls us to do something, God gives us the ability to obey. (and the freedom not to)
(after a prayer of complaint) I expected to feel God’s displeasure, but I felt God was pleased, not with my complaining but with my willingness to trust God enough to express even the unpleasantness in my life. (Every offering has value to God, even the sour ones.)
Job wanted God to be his ultimate resource with the assurance that he was a child of God. “Before, you were only a theory to me,” Job was saying. “Now I know you are my ultimate reality.” (thank goodness my salvation doesn’t rely on me)
Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world!” (John 16:33) This, friends, changes everything. (thank goodness for Easter)
Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? (James 2:15-16) (‘Keep up the good work!’ is a slap in the face to someone who can’t.)
People put forth extraordinary effort to get results. God wants us to put forth extraordinary effort to bring about the dreams God has for us. (Why would I work harder for my dreams than God’s?)
We were taught “stop, drop and roll” if our clothes caught on fire. (If our tongues are aflame) we might do well to “stop, breathe and pray.” (Fire prevention safety never goes out of style.)
“Tell her not to worry, because she is ‘strong like me’.” (Three words that will last a lifetime.)
Selah, (written in between stanzas in the psalms) probably means, “pause, and think of that.” (Pause and reflect, perhaps the greatest untapped power in the universe.)
Sometimes as Christians, we focus more on how we look than where God wants us to look. (nuf said)
where we teeter
at the intersection of
RUN FAST and BE STILL.