A dear friend recently became even dearer by sending me a card of comfort and encouragement. He chose to refer to a scripture in the book of Nahum. Nahum! I hadn’t even thought of Nahum in years and had trouble finding it! There it was, a short little book tucked in between Micah and Habakkuk, but the noted scripture was lacking encouragement. It was about God’s anger unto the wicked! My friend is a kindly gentleman who would not increase my sorrow with the glowering of guilt. I asked my friend to confide in me the uplifting meaning and together my friend and I learned he had written the wrong verse! He had meant Nahum 1:7 and had written Nahum 1:3. It was an error, but it was an error wrapped in good intentions and an error made useful by the Sovereign God. The little book of Nahum speaks of comfort as his name implies. The comfort of knowing that the Sovereign God is still in control in the midst of bad things happening and can be trusted to do good. As my friend and I thumbed through scripture to get to the intended verse, I was comforted in the memory of verses I have misquoted, the times I signed books with scripture that was not only incorrect, but attributed chapters and verses beyond those properly recorded. “I Corinthians 13:14 – Love, Jeannette” There is no I Corinthians 13:14! What do I do? Dear Friend, somewhere in the world, stop looking for I Corinthians 13:14! Some errors you can’t correct, but as my friend and I found the right verse from Nahum, I felt a little healing for my own errors; for, you see, the Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who trust in Him. Nahum 1:7
Ready or Not!
I was working at my desk at home when I got the call from a friend living out of town. “Hi, Jeannette. We’re in Houston for a day. We want to drop by for a few minutes.” The thought of seeing my friends was delightful. The thought of them seeing my house in its current condition was not delightful. I had not made the bed, nor cleared away the breakfast dishes, a basket of clothes to be washed was in the hallway, the living room was in disarray, and I was uncombed, barefooted, wearing tattered jeans and my husband’s shirt on its way to the wash basket. I asked my friend where she was and she said, “At your front door”!!! I scrambled into shoes (high heels making my appearance more ludicrous), put the wash basket in the hall closet (searched for two days before remembering where it was), grabbed clean powder room guest towels, closed the bedroom door, welcomed my friends…served left-over coffee and had a nice visit on our back porch…ignoring the mop rested against the railing by the water starved plant and seeded cyclamen that never blossomed. It reminded me that God has the Sovereign right to “drop by” at any moment. Does my life have a sink full of dirty dishes? Unattended promises in a basket near the front door? Ignored devotions in the living room? And a rumpled bedspread of bitterness tumbled in with unconfessed sins? No matter how busy your day, be sure it’s ready for a visit from the Lord. But even if the bed isn’t made, welcome Him in. A visit with Him will make your day!
is a lamp to my feet,
and a light to my path.
At the end of my block is a grassy circle separating my block from the next block. It has trees and some flowers and is a green knoll for all seasons. It is also a pathway for those walking to school as well as any cutting through the circle for access to either street. So, in the middle of the verdant greenery is a brown patch. Regularly that patch is re-planted and regularly it is worn away. Paths have a kind of permanence the individual stepping on them did not intend. There was no impulse to mark that grassy circle, but the repeated action did just that. We leave paths for others to follow sometimes when we don’t mean to. Parents, teachers, pastors know it as part of their nominal responsibility; however, all of us leave paths. Steps repeated make their marks and whether hindering or helping they make a difference. Columbus cut a path through the waters, some school boy began the path through my neighborhood circle (I think Lucy Arnold and I increased its marking on our way to school many years ago).
Now, I appreciate the local defenders of green who continue to replant that browning stripe in my green circle, but I find the markings of history appealing. That path reminds me of generations that preceded me and I have a pleasant history. I pray that I mark pleasant paths and encourage those who go behind me as I am encouraged by those who went before. As a Believer, I thank the Lord for those who set my path by teaching, and the deep imprint of role modeling, and for those who walked to school with me and made that path friendlier. And I look to Him, Who directs my paths; sometime through green pastures and sometimes thru the browning of other walkers – and occasionally mine is the first step. What kind of path are you leaving for others to follow? Be always mindful that others are following in your footsteps.
Jeannette Clift George
Clearly Marked Directions
The Houston ballad of lamentations is a sad song called traffic. It has a short verse and many choruses. Yesterday I found a new verse for it. In the patterning of construction signs, I followed what I thought was the clearly marked path and found myself at a dead end from which the only way out was against the traffic. There was a car and a gravel truck honking behind me. A short stocky policeman came towards me with a lumbering gait. I punched down my window and said, “I’m sorry, I did whatever I did, but I don’t know how to get out!” The policeman waved his hands at the honking car, directed me to drive forward, peeled out my car and the car behind me, ushered the gravel truck into what had been my space and nodded a pleasant farewell to me. I called out a relieved “thank you”. The policeman smiled and said, “The signs aren’t clear.” Not clear! Retracing the turns of my mistake I reached a corner with a small red-lettered sign DO NOT ENTER. It was difficult to read because it was on its side having been uprooted by some gale of wind or maybe a passing gravel truck.
There is an interesting collection of specific directions called The Ten Commandments. These directions contain highway signs always focused on the best way to travel and the only way to survive the experience. We need to follow them carefully and keep them safe from gravel trucks, high winds, and vagrant interpretations that may uproot them and cast them aside from their appointed places, thus causing various pilgrims to lose their way and get dead-ended against the traffic.