But if not…
I can be very fussy in my likes and dislikes even when it comes to books.
That doesn’t mean I only read books I like. In Secondary school we had to read a long list of books in Dutch, German and English. (My only memory of my German Literature reading was an endless letter by Martin Luther sent to some king.).
I like books with happy endings. Not the soppy ones, where they can’t stand each other in chapter one, knowing full well that by the last chapter they’ll be married with a baby on the way. That’s almost as annoying as the main male character having blue eyes and dark wavy hair. People having smooth, easy lives without any clouds once they are saved is another one to get my eyes rolling, reading faster than ever. (One will never stop reading a book one has started. Ever. Not even if it’s a sixteenth century letter to a king. In a foreign language.) Very, very occasionally I will read a book more than once. It will have to be pretty amazing for me to do so.
On my shelves is an old book about a missionary girl in India, called “But If Not…” The title is based on the account of the three young men in Daniel 3 who were threatened with the fiery oven. They told the king that they’d rather choose the oven, and that their God was mighty to deliver them from the oven anyway. Then they added, “…but if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” The young men had no idea how this episode would end. They trusted God, knowing Him to be all powerful, but also knew that His plans are not always understood this side of Heaven. Either way, they were putting God first, trusting Him completely with the outcome. Basically, that was the whole point of this missionary book, to trust God either way.
It’s been on my mind as part of me wants to proclaim Psalm 91, part of me holds back in case we ‘get it’ and how would we explain the first few verses? How do we agree that He has promised to keep us from the ‘noisome pestilence’ that walks in darkness, or explain that a thousand shall fall at our right hand, without it coming near us? What if our family gets ill? Does that make God’s promises void?
Thinking about the book, I realised that, yes, my God is mighty to keep this virus at bay, just like He is able to see us through potholed riddled journeys, and tree climbing adventures (my kids, that is!). But if not…I still trust Him, for this world is not our home, it’s a passing place. He will keep our hearts and minds in His peace, a peace that passes all understanding, and will guide us Home one day, where tears will be no more. No more viruses, no more disasters, no more pain.
Looking at my TBR pile I realise that they have smart looking covers, catchy titles, and thin comfortable paper pages (My kindle TBR pile makes me less nervous, as it doesn’t teeter on the edge of a small table!). I can already guarantee that the majority of my TBR pile will be a once-read only book. Whereas in my study is this book with thick brown paper pages, no picture on the cover, no clever enticing blurb at the back. And after all these years, it still reminds me of truth, life, God, priorities and the right perspective in it all.
Not everything has happy endings, I realise that, but this also is dependent on perspective. So I carry on washing my hands, hunting down toilet paper and food, whilst also reciting Psalm 91, adding in my head, “but if not…”