One book I borrowed from the library but forgot to mention in my last post is The Tolkien Fan's Medieval Reader. Well, I'm a Tolkien fan for sure, and as I love Old English literature and such, I knew I would enjoy this book. A lot of it isn't in verse, which was a bit disappointing, but I am still liking it immensely. I was reading Beowulf today, and before I got a more than a few pages in, I came across the following:
They knew not the Creator, Judge of deeds; they knew no the Lord God, nor verily had they learned to worship the Protector of the heavens, the glorious Ruler.
Woe is his who is destined in dire distressful wise to thrust his soul into the fire's embrace, to hope for no comfort, in no way to change.
Weal is his, who may after his death-day stand before the Lord, and claim a refuge in the Father's arms!
Other than this just being wonderfully written, it especially touched me because we had discussed a similar topic in my Discipleship Group last night. We were studying James 4:11-17, and spent more than an hour and a half just poring over the Word and talking about it. You know those passages that seem so straightforward and simple to follow, yet when you hold it up to your life and imagine what you do in those types of situations you realize how much you don't follow the command? Well, I had one of those "I fail at life" moments when I recognized how I don't even attempt to stop myself from slandering a rude customer to my friends at work after they leave. Well, they were rude or deceptive and I feel sorry for myself, so it's okay to play the victim and gossip, right? NO!!! Someone else's sin is no excuse for me to disobey God's command and sin as well! When I think about it, I realize how stupid and sinful it sounds, but in the moment, it's the first thing I think of doing. I've been praying about it and asking the Lord to help me in those moments realize my anger before I spit it out, and take my frustration to him instead of to my co-workers.
But what didn't really get me until I thought more deeply about it as I was falling asleep last night is the second part - verses 13 through 17.
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”, yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.
These verses helped me a lot about a year ago, when I was really struggling with plans I had for myself and where God was so obviously trying to lead me. It was in the exact opposite direction of where I wanted to go, and I was not pleased. In fact, I was a mess there for a couple months. I'll spare you the details, but it wasn't until I realized what was missing and started spending more time with my loving and merciful God that He gave me peace. I had nothing but trouble on my own, but as soon as I asked, He, after I had pretty much let our relationship slack, granted just what I needed and drew me back to Him. Now, I still have plans - lots of plans, to be honest. I mean, we all do! Personally, I'd like to get married, have lots of kids, and live on a self-sufficient homestead in the country. That's my dream. But as much as I love that idea, I remind myself that those are my own plans, not necessarily God's. It really seems like He is preparing me for something of the sort, and I am so thankful for that, but the specifics? I have NO clue what He has in store for me. The only thing I am sure of is that whatever His plan is, it's good. For the furthering of His kingdom and glory, and for me personally.
I have to remind myself, as I'm sure we all do, of the truth of God's Word. For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Think of steam rising from a kettle. It's there for a second or so, and then completely gone. In my life, do I even remember a shadow on the ground, a cloud in the sky, the steam over a pot of soup? No. But you know, God does. He remembers us. However sinful and little we are, He has given us, by His grace, a chance to do great things for Him. So even though I'm just a fragile wisp of steam, I know His plan is perfect.
Now coming back to the Beowulf, we also talked about what it must be like for unbelievers who don't know the Lord and His grace. They, in the back of their minds, also know that they are a mist; that they are only here for a fraction of time. But what differs between us and them is that they have no hope for the future. They have no idea what's going to happen, whether it will be good or bad, or whether their lives will be worth while. Those without God have no comfort from the hope of a better place, a body free of sin, and an eternity with their Creator. It makes my heart ache for them, because as bad as this world is, this is as good as they are ever going to get. Isn't that sad? I can't thank my Lord enough for reaching down and picking me up, taking the blindfold off my eyes so I see the truth. The truth is, that this world is as bad as it's going to get for me. He will triumph over evil and reign forever and all the world will know His name! So whatever He has planned for me, I'm game. Because it's good.
I'm reaching my hand to Yours
Believing there's so much more
Knowing that all You have in store for me is good