Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Day I Made Cookies

There’s a saying that I’ve sometimes seen on bumper stickers – “Need a heart transplant? Turn to Jesus.”

I understand the intent of that saying, but I don’t agree with it. Jesus is not in the business of heart transplants. He’s in the business of heart transformations. I can testify to that because it has happened to me. More than once. I was reminded of one of those times when my husband asked a question during his sermon last Sunday. He asked, “What’s the hardest thing you have ever had to do?”

A couple of things came to mind – the day I froze, terrified of falling, half way across the Capilano Suspension Bridge in B.C., and the day I made cookies. That day on the bridge a friend came and pried my hands off the railings and forced me to walk with her to the far side.

The day I made cookies was a different thing entirely. We had built our log house on the banks of the Klondike River in the Yukon. We needed a well drilled and there was only one person in the area who could do it. I’ll call him Jack. I’d known Jack for a number of years. In fact I’d known him quite well, or thought I did. It was one of those times in a person’s life when the shock of betrayal results in hatred. I hated that man. If I saw him on the street I would cross to the other side. If he was in a gathering I attended, I would leave. Just the sight of him made my blood boil.

So when my husband told me he had hired him to drill our well, I was shaken. I would not be able to avoid him when he was working in my back yard. The thought made my stomach clench. I tried desperately to find some-one else who could drill our well, but Jack was the only person who had the machinery and the know-how.

The first day he came, I ignored him and stayed in the house. That’s when the Lord started working on my heart. I opened my Bible that morning and the verses spoke of forgiveness. I closed the book and didn’t bother to pray. The next day the verses were different but the theme was the same. I tried to pray, without much success. On the third day I thought the drilling would be finished but the machinery was giving Jack trouble. It was going to take longer than he had estimated. I did not have to wonder why.

When I opened my Bible that fourth day the conviction on my heart was so strong I could not resist it. “For the word of God is living and active Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joint and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12). I wept and asked God to help me forgive. I prayed the machinery would work. It took another two days and by then, on the last day, I managed to make a plate of cookies and serve them to Jack with fresh coffee and a smile. That was the same day fresh clean water gushed from the ground. The significance did not escape me.

Yes, God is in the business of transforming hearts. He reaches into them with His word and His spirit and changes them.

Think you need to forgive someone? Turn to Jesus and he’ll give you a heart transformation.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

What I See in Books

Every time I step into my office these days I am given cause to pause. We will be moving in about four months and the idea of having to sort and pack my books is more than a little daunting. My daughter says we should just put a sign on the lawn, 'House for Sale, Includes Library.' The cheek of some people's children!

I've been reading a wonderful children's book called The Book Thief. (A warning here, there is some bad language in this book). The main character is a young girl who steals her first book at her brother's graveside. Books become extremely important to her, as she lives in the midst of the madness of Germany in the 1930's and 40's.

Books mean a lot to me, too. I've never stolen one, but I confess when I was young I used to take them out of the library just to touch them, hold them, put them on a shelf and look at them. To me, they were, and are, icons of comfort and security. Lately I've been examining why. I suppose a good therapist could write a book about it. (I'd be willing to be the subject as long as I get a copy I can touch, hold and put on my shelf!)

Perhaps the attachment has to do with power. There is power in knowledge, they say, and the best way to gain knowledge is to read. Perhaps it has to do with ownership. Some people have to own a new car every year. Books are cheaper. Or perhaps it's security. A room full of books gives me the same feeling a pile of firewood did in the Yukon when it turned sixty below. The fear of being out in the cold is kept at bay for a while.

I know a lot of people who are like me - they love books, especially "good" books - and we have a lot of discussion about why we think a particular book is good. Finding a gem is reason for excitement among this group of people and, again, I've wondered why. What is it that makes us search for good books? Indeed, what is it that makes us search for goodness in anything?

I believe, whether we know it or not, we are searching for God. I believe this is a primary motivation inside me when I buy a book - books somehow give me a window into the mind and heart of God. Not all books do this, of course, but even the bad ones have their moments. Each being written by a man or woman whose essence is eternally connected to his/her creator, God is there. Sometimes His face shines from the pages. Sometimes it is a shadow that lurks. Sometimes it's a thread that ties the thing together or the glue that drips from the binding. You might not even be aware of it. The author might not even have been aware, but God is there and opening those pages reveals Him to us all. And it is God who provides true knowledge, true security.

I was telling my husband a bit about The Book Thief as we drove to a nearby city the other day. He asked me if it was a Christian book. "No," I said, "not at all."

But I see God in it. That's why I want to touch it, hold it, read it intently and keep it on my shelf.