I had just wedged this book into the top of a very full box and was closing the top. We were packing up the last of our study tonight, and had come down to six boxes of books that we simply did not feel ready to see go... not just yet. The cover of the book caught my eye. I could not remember seeing it before, and so I lifted it back from the box. I noticed that it was atypically heavy, and the binding was rather coarse. It felt like real canvas or a rough cloth. I opened the cover.
I was astounded to see the copyright printed on brittle paper, 1899. I was still perplexed as to how this book came to be on my shelf... I finally decided that it must have been picked up from an estate sale. I had a past curiosity of collecting old books. And then, I noticed that the binding on the cover seemed a bit bulky, and I pried my fingernail between the page and the material and began to gently peel it away.
The page gave lose of its seemingly ancient grasp... and I felt my breath catch.
I couldn't believe my eyes. I acted like a daft character in a young adult movie and I squinted my eyes. I rested the book carefully on the desk and I rubbed my eyes and cleared my head. Now, convinced that I was fully lucid and not dreaming, I again lifted the book to my face. The initial shock that I felt in my chest at seeing my Pappaw Mathis' flowing script in the form of his name and then mine... well, that shock turned to wonder and tears of blessing as I read the words that he had written. These were words that he had penned years ago... so long that I had forgotten them, or perhaps I had never even read them because the binding was stuck... and I happened on them at this moment...
...This incredibly perfect moment.
How could this be? The words of my grandfather, previously unnoticed, rested in my hands on this night as we prepare our hearts for the unknown and begin taking these steps of faith. How can it be... that this path that seems so crazy to so many, is a way that is being affirmed in such powerful ways?
I ran and begged Kellie to come with me and see what I had found! I am sure that living with me can be quite an experience... I am a bit eccentric at times, and I do not see the world like most of you sane, normal people. And so... I hesitated before I began reading the words. I was only a sentence into his handwriting before my emotions executed a coup'de'tat of my voice, and then rapidly swung buccaneer style from my mind to hers as we both cried tears of acknowledgment as we listened to our God speaking directly to us. He spoke over the years since I had received the book from my Pop, and He spoke over the centuries of delivered promises to His people.
I Googled the words and the author and I learned the story of Minne Louise Haskins. She penned the words on the balcony of her home in 1908, and they were obscure until the Queen Mother sent them to her son in a Christmas Card... and then King George VI broadcast them to the world in his Christmas broadcast <-- (click to hear his speech) in 1939, as his country teetered on the edge of war.
I am in awe as I listen to this speech again and hear the powerful truth that is given to us by the worlds of this Sunday school teacher, spoken by the King of a Nation who led the world through the darkness of war. If you have watched The King's Speech with Colin Firth, then you may have some familiarity with this moment in history.
The movie captivated me when I first saw it. I was inspired by what a man of belief can accomplish when he refuses to allow fear to hold him back. These words copied by my Pop... compel me to dig ever deeper in pursuing the vision that God has given to us. "...Put thine hand into the hand of God."
These words have found us here today. They are exactly what we need to hear. If you question whether or not God still speaks... I am here to tell you that indeed He does. His voice is quiet. It comes to those who are willing to listen. It comes to those who are actively seeking Him. It comes to us when we least expect it... and most importantly, He speaks when He choses. I assure you that His timing is when we need it most.
As we count down to the final days in our home... as we pack up a few boxes that we will keep, and we listen to our voices echo from the bare walls and empty rooms of a once filled 2200 square feet house... we watch fear and doubt scamper back into the shadows as we speak these words together, hand-in-hand:
And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year,
Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown'
And he replied:. Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand
Of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way'So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night.
And then I picked up another heavy book. It was a concordance that sat on my shelf for over a decade. I joked with Kellie that the inside cover of it may also hold a surprise... I opened the book and discovered that indeed it did!
I have the wisdom of those who have gone before me, and the voice of my God to guide me. I can indeed grasp the hand in the
darkness that is better than any light and safer than any know way! We have been talking about prayer lately in a group at church... and how we can pray not only for issues, but how we can passionately and sincerely pray THROUGH problems...
...and how God will indeed honor prayers that are sincere and for His glory. It is amazing to us to see how God lives and moves in our lives at this moment as we put feet to faith.
We were already in awe... and yet, the discoveries weren't finished yet! I picked up a third book, looked Kel in the eyes and as we smiled together, I opened the cover.
This book was entitled, "Deeper Experiences of Famous Christians" and was signed in the front cover by Grace Henry, the mother of my grandfather Eldon C. Henry. At this point I was overcome by the power of the significance of the moment. I felt like the calling that I had accepted on my life... and had now begun taking aggressive steps of faith in pursuing, had somehow been verified by God using my Pop, my Great Grandfather, and my Great-Great Grandmother. Oh, how I long for a deeper experience of God. Yes... I want to make an impact like D.L. Moody. Yes... I long to always hold tightly to the hand of God as I take bold steps into territory that I can not always see.
I am beginning to believe fully that this live is meant to be aggressively lived in a pursuit of God, and to allow Him to pursue me. I am sure that this life is simply a temporary moment that springs us into eternity. I have no doubt that we are to shout this message as loud as we can, and take hold of as many small hands along the way as we can grasp!
And so, we began placing the final strips of tape on the boxes, and I picked up the book that had started it all... the D.L. Moody book given to my by my dear Pop. I opened its pages once more, and I noticed a single number at the top of the next page, "369." With anticipation I turned to that page... feeling the dry paper break in my grip. I slowed so that I caused as little damage to the 113 year old book as possible and found the page. I was afraid that it may simply be blank... and it nearly was. My heart quickened from disappointment to delight and then to the realization that I had been challenged as I read the underlined word and its adjoining sentence.
"Though He slay me yet will I trust in Him." " will cast myself on the mercy of God." This verse is from the Book of Job, chapter 13, verse 15. It is a very serious moment. And yet... Job held tight to the promise of God. Even through the tough times. If you walk with us on this journey, I have no doubt that you will see us walk through some real Job moments.
We count on it. We believe that it is in these times that our faith matters. We believe that it is in these times that our witness has the greatest integrity. We simply ask that you always walk with us. Pray for us. Support us. Allow us to minister to you as you bless the calling and ministry of God.
We all walk this path together. I am here to tell you that I find God to be real.