If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
Your right hand will hold me fast.
–Psalm 139:9-10 NIV
It’s big; it’s heavy; it’s falling apart: three of the four reasons I left my Bible behind when I went on vacation.
The moments I spend reading my Bible are woven into the fabric of my morning. Even this first day out on our trip I missed it, more than I thought I would. I considered using the Bible software on my laptop, but just the image evoked a cold, metallic feeling in my chest. I am accustomed to a cup of coffee in one hand and my heavy, clunky Bible in the other; its pages worn soft by wear, its binding broken by the contours of my lap.
So I listened to the waves wash ashore, inhaled the salty breeze, closed my eyes, and quieted my heart for prayer. Considering I had a cup of freshly-brewed Kona coffee in my hand and a day at the shore ahead of me, I should have been feeling pretty good. Thank the Lord for the day, ask for protection, please remember Jesse, blah blah blah.
Instead I felt lost. So I asked Him to send help.
It’s not that God gives me specific direction from the Word at the beginning of each day. It’s just that He’s there. I meet Him every morning, and I have for years. This morning I felt like I’d been stood up; oh wait- it was my idea to be left alone. Instead, I was left bereft. And I knew why I had done it.
It had nothing to do with the size, weight, or the condition of my Bible. I had lugged it, or one of its predecessors, on all my previous travels. Instead, while I was suffering from a recent personal blow, a quiet voice whispered that God was fed up with me at the moment. And I believed it. And then I figured, why lug this big heavy message halfway across the Pacific when God didn’t want to talk to me anyway?
Sigh. Well, here we are in paradise, Kevin said, let’s walk into town before it gets too hot. So we strolled down the main drag into Kailua. High-end vendors hawked expensive trinkets to white-legged tourists while Bubba Gump sang his siren song of shrimp. The bay shone on our left, the shops bustled on our right, and coconut trees swayed in the breeze overhead. I could hardly believe the blessing of being back in Hawaii; still, it didn’t take us long to get sick of the noise downtown. Sauntering back to our condo, we wriggled our sweaty bodies into swimsuits and took a cool dip in the pool. No sooner had I plopped my dripping self into a deck chair than a quiet voice whispered, “Go check out their lending library.”
The voice could have been mine; could have been God’s; I’m a sucker for books anywhere, anytime. As I perused the jumbled assortment left by travelers before me, I found an older, hardback book; no jacket, but the author’s familiar name was stamped on the binding: Lucado. Max Lucado? Here? A Christian book among the usual trashy novels is a rare find indeed. Even more surprising, I had never read it. Finally, the subject matter grabbed my attention like police lights in my rear-view mirror.
It was a study of the 23rd Psalm. I have spent months in that passage. Millions of readers over the centuries have claimed for themselves this sacred promise, in times of joy and times of sorrow: “The Lord is my Shepherd.”
Now I was not only dripping but dumbstruck as the Truth dispelled the lie. God was not “fed up” with me. God wanted to feed me. I may have heard the enemy’s voice and left my Bible behind, but the Jesus who loves me laughed in his face and sent His Word in answer to my prayer. And every morning for the rest of my trip, I sipped Kona coffee and studied with Max before packing the cooler and heading for the beach.
Only God knows whose hands had held these yellowed pages; whose heart had been reassured, whose soul had been saved through this message before it reached me. When my time on Kona drew to a close I left the book behind, praying for the next weary traveler who’d be nourished by the words of David and reminded of the love of God. One simple volume in a jumbled assortment was singled out and delivered to me by divine destiny; all because I asked, and Jesus loves me. Oh, that we all could know that He loves us that much.
To God be the glory! Amen.
©2011 Rachel Ophoff, Coconut Mountain Communications LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Please visit my website at http://www.friendshipwithjesus.com