Daily D – 2 Timothy 4:13
When you come, be sure to bring the coat I left with Carpus at Troas. Also bring my books, and especially my papers. 2 TIMOTHY 4:13 (NLT)
My bride is a good woman. Really, she is. She is beautiful, brilliantly intelligent, and she earns more money than I do. A couple of more raises and I may stay home and take care of the dogs all day. I might even expand my cooking skills. We will need to hire someone for cleaning, however.
As good a woman as she is, she recently asked me to get rid of some of my friends. She thinks they have outlived their usefulness. For a woman who is as kind and generous as she is to say such a thing, or even to think it, is unconscionable.
She did say I can hold onto many of these friends, but some would be more useful elsewhere. It is the paperbacks she most objects to keeping. Once they have been read, she feels, they should be passed along to others. She encouraged me to box up a few dozen and take them to a used book store. I promise you, she has not thought this through to the logical conclusion.
What happens while the staff at the store are determining how much they will give me in exchange for my friends? Exactly! I will find new friends who require a place of repose upon our shelves or in that window sill upstairs we now use as a bookshelf extension.
Books are the magic carpets of the mind you may have heard. They can pick you up and transport you to all kinds of fascinating places full of interesting people and conflicts and dangers and great deeds. I am currently in St. Louis in the early days of the Civil Rights Era. A white preacher’s son who is the black sheep of his large family, who cannot keep a job, and who lives a prodigal lifestyle, is pursuing the love of an African American preacher’s daughter.
You need to read this book. It is Jack by Marilynne Robinson. Do not read it until you have read the three others in this series. First comes Gilead. Robinson won the Pulitzer Prize for that one. The first and last lines of the book will take your breath away.
Next comes Home and then Lila. Jack is the most recent book in the series. From small-town Iowa, to frontier Kansas, to the Gateway City, the reader lives many lives. The grace of God is viewed through so many different lenses with such tender effect. Can you imagine losing one of these friends?
I find it interesting that in this context where Paul writes about his friends that he mentions his books. I like to think we are kindred spirits when it comes to the value, intrinsic and extrinsic, of print on a page. Consider this question well: What if King David had not recorded his thoughts and prayers? What if Paul had not written to the new believers and their leaders all over the Mediterranean world?
Yes, I must bless some fortunate soul or souls with some of my friends from across the years. Yes, don’t tell my bride, I will continue bringing home new friends to take their place. Yes, I will treasure such friends until the day I die.
That was Paul’s line of thinking. You can see from verses 6, 7, and 8 that his last day was drawing near. Before he closed his eyes here for the last time, he wanted to gaze upon the strokes of the pen which formed characters on a page which created ideas in his mind which expanded a chained existence into endless delight.
Demas was gone. So was Crescens. Titus, too. Tychicus was on an errand to Ephesus. It was beginning to get cooler. Autumn would soon become winter. What could better cheer an old man in his last hours more than a warm coat and a good book?
He would read, he would write, he would pray, and he would sleep.
I will introduce my friends to worlds they would never know otherwise and to lives that make their own worth living.
Our Father, empty spaces invite reflection and instruction. Words and sentences and paragraphs become muscle and bone and sinew. Truths emerge forging character. Ideas expand horizons. Dreams become destiny. Reality emerges out of black on white, one page at a time. Thank you for words to contain thoughts and thoughts beyond containment. Thank you for your final, living word, Jesus. Amen.
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Psalm 139:17, 18 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!
2 Corinthians 5:1-5 For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life. God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 10:13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.