Things I Wish Were In The Bible

"Thy word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path"
—Psalm 119:105 (KJV)

As I read my Bible, I remember my writing teacher pacing the tatty, wooden classroom floor. His aged voice croaked, “Details, students. Details! Vivid verbs. Well-chosen words. Show. Don’t tell!” When I read the Bible, I often want to shout at its writers “Details! Details! Details!!”

The meat is there—truth, instruction, prophesy—but so much of it leaves me wondering. So many details lost.

Now, I understand that I can infer by using what I already know and applying contextual clues, but still, I want to know absolutely. (If you read last week’s post, you know that I like “absolutes and certainties.”) I want those writers to compel me into the scenes. I want to see, hear, taste, touch, and smell the happenings through their words.

Take the ark, for example. I want the scribe to provide a cross-reference to a species list. I need to know exactly which animals were on that ark. I want notes from Noah’s journal (if he kept one). I want to know how those animals behaved. What problems occurred? How did Noah solve them? Then there’s Jonah and the “big fish.” What kind of fish? How big exactly? I need a description of the inside of that belly. I want a rich, six-senses narrative. When Jonah prayed to the Lord, did his voice echo inside an empty belly, or was Jonah swimming in . . . well . . . yesterday’s lunch?

How tall was Jesus? What did His voice sound like? How far was Mary and Martha’s house from Lazarus’ tomb? What were the merchants selling in the temple? What foods were spread on the banquet table? How did that huge crowd on the hillside hear Jesus when He taught them? Was it like the “telephone game” with the people in front passing the message to those gathered behind them? And the loaves and fishes. What kind of bread? Was the fish baked, broiled, fried, or (horrors) raw?

Trivia. Yes, I know it’s all trivia. Still, I desire the vivid pictures that words can paint. And then, I think this: God’s purpose is in everything. Too many details might veil the message. Sagacity might be buried in imaginary side trips. A struggling reader, more importantly a new Christian, might find it hard to separate the meat from the details. Perhaps God took pity on the poor scribes who dipped their pens in inkwells again and again writing His inspired words longhand. All good reasons for leaving out the particulars.

The Bible gets down to the real heart of issues. The prophet Jeremiah said, “Then the LORD stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me, ‘Behold, I have put My words in your mouth’." (Jeremiah 1:9). And Timothy, in the New Testament, tells us, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16)

"My words". "God-breathed scripture". No matter what we desire, God gives us exactly what we need—and that includes the words in the Bible.

Procrastination—You Don't Have To Know Everything

"Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men."
Colossians 3:23 (ESV)

Art ©Richard Krzemien, The Writer at Work
All Rights Reserved

The Procrastinator’s Poem

I’ve gone for a drink and sharpened pencils,
Searched through my desk for forgotten utensils,
I reset my watch, adjusted my chair,
I’ve loosened my tie and straightened my hair.
I filled my pen and tested my blotter

And gone for another drink of water

Adjusted the calendar, and I’ve raised the blinds

And I’ve sorted erasers of all different kinds.
Now down to work I can finally sit. 

Oops, too late, it’s time to quit.
—Author Unknown

Like the man in the poem, I’m a procrastinator. This is something I’m working on in 2012. My goal is to resist the temptation to procrastinate.

People procrastinate for different reasons. Some are lazy, and others just put things off because they don’t have time.

An incident from the American Revolution illustrates what tragedy can result from procrastination. It is reported that Colonel Rahl, commander of the British troops in Trenton, New Jersey, was playing cards when a courier brought an urgent message stating that General George Washington was crossing the Delaware River. Rahl put the letter in his pocket and didn't bother to read it until the game was finished. Then, realizing the seriousness of the situation, he hurriedly tried to rally his men to meet the coming attack, but his procrastination was his undoing. He and many of his men were killed and the rest of the regiment were captured.

Nolbert Quayle said, "Only a few minutes' delay cost him his life, his honor, and the liberty of his soldiers. Earth's history is strewn with the wrecks of half-finished plans and unexecuted resolutions. 'Tomorrow' is the excuse of the lazy and refuge of the incompetent."
[Source: Our Daily Bread February 2, 2009.]

When I was an editor at Golden Books, I worked with a wonderful man who acted as a liaison between the Editorial Department and the printer. Wally’s job was to keep everyone on schedule, and his favorite phrase was, “I deal only in absolutes and certainties!”

My problem with procrastination isn’t so much with laziness or time, but rather with absolutes and certainties. Before I start something, I want to have all of the pieces and know exactly how they fit together. I want to know everything. And when that isn’t possible, then the task seems overwhelming. I want to procrastinate.

One day a young man moved into a cave to study with a wise man. He hoped to learn everything there was to know. After giving his student a stack of books, the wise man sprinkled itching powder on his student's hand and left. Every morning the wise man returned to the cave to monitor his student's progress. "Have you learned everything there is to know yet?" the wise man asked.

And every morning his student said, "No, I haven't." Then the wise man would sprinkle itching powder on the student's hand and leave. This was repeated for months. But one day, as the wise man entered the cave the student took the bag of itching powder and tossed it into the fire.

"Congratulations!" said the wise man. "You've graduated. You've learned you don't have to know everything to do something positive. And you've learned how to take control over your life and stop the itching."
[Source: Today in the Word, May 1, 1992.]

Every day, I’m trying to "stop the itching" by following the advice given in 1 Chronicles 28:20: "Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged by the size of the task, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you." (NLT)

Whatever the reason for procrastination, it isn’t good. Proverbs 24:30-34 (NIV) says: "I went past the field of a sluggard, past the vineyard of someone who has no sense; thorns had come up everywhere, the ground was covered with weeds, and the stone wall was in ruins. I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw: A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest— and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man."

Are you a procrastinator or have you overcome procrastination? I would love to know your story.

Are You Afraid of the Hodag?

". . .but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm."
Proverbs 1:33 (NIV)

The Hodag, the unrelenting legend of an illusive beast that prowls the Northwoods. A hideous, hairy animal it is. Seven feet long, three feet high. Ferocious. Dangerous. Grumpy. Its short, strong legs finish in claws, raw and needle sharp. A dozen gleaming, white horns line its backbone. Wicked-looking tusks hang menacingly from its vise-like jaws. With spikes and tusks, the Hodag rubs bark off maples and covers itself with sap. Sticky then, it rolls in fallen leaves making a winsome disguise.

“Beware of that pile of leaves in the woods,” says the storyteller. He points into the darkness past his shoulder. “It might be the Hodag waiting for—YOU!”

We scream. He pours water on the campfire then. Flames sizzle. The orange glow surrounding his face vanishes in a shroud of steam. Reluctantly, we girls retreat to our tents. Brave scouts no more. We slip into sleeping bags, zip them tight, and lay awake worrying about the Hodag. We don’t know when or if it will come, or worse what might happen if it does. We only know that it IS. Somewhere out there the Hodag lurks, and it fills our souls with fear.

Are you afraid of the Hodag? Most of us are. It’s that “something out there,” that something that could harm us, the unknown. For some, the Hodag is fear of loss—of a loved one, our job, our health. For others, it’s a persistent unnamed fear, or fear of fear itself. A Hodag fear can lead to a deathbed confession like this one:

“I’ve had a lot of trouble in my life—most of which never happened!”

There’s only one weapon that can destroy Hodag fear. Faith. Faith first in God’s perfect plan and protection. Faith then in ourselves that we possess enough strength to face our fear with faith.

Think about David in 1 Samuel 17. A gangly teenager with a slingshot and no cladding, he faced Goliath, a fearsome, mocking bully, nine feet tall. The giant, dressed in full armor, harassed and cursed him, but David answered, "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty. . .” (verse 45) Then David struck Goliath. The Hodag fell dead. Faith conquered fear.

In Psalm 112:7-8, David writes about people who are faithful and obedient to God. He says, “They aren't afraid when bad news comes. They stand firm because they trust in the Lord. Their hearts are secure. They aren't afraid. In the end they will see their enemies destroyed.”

In times of trouble believers can find peace knowing that God will deliver them. No matter what the circumstances He is God, our protector, the One who knows the unknown. He is the God who does not change. He is Faith in the face of fear, the Slayer of the Hodag.

Curious about the Wisconsin Hodag legend?
Learn more

If You Could Meet Jesus the Man . . .

. . .He came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
— Luke 10:38-42 (NIV

I sometimes daydream about living back when Jesus wore skin. In my imaginings, I’ve slipped into the personas of Gospel characters, disciples, and followers of Christ. I’ve lain in a field, a lowly shepherd guarding my sheep when the angel came down from Heaven. I’ve rested with the Twelve, listening to Jesus speak parables on cool, starry nights with gentle breezes rocking silver leaves on olive trees. When I faced uterine cancer in the present-day world, I became one with the woman who bled and sought healing. I imagined that, like she, I could push through the sea of neediness surrounding Our Lord and ever so dimly touch the hem of His robe. And somehow, I did. I transcended time. He knew my touch, and He healed me in the twenty-first century.

Last night, I asked myself, “If you could choose to be one, just one, who had personal contact with Jesus the Man, whom would you choose?” A question like that deserves pondering. But I didn’t turn it over and over in my head trying to decide which one. I knew. I have always known. If I had to choose, I would be Mary, sister to Martha and Lazarus.

This Mary was Jesus’ close friend. It was she who sat at His feet listening to His words while her sister cooked and swept. It was this Mary who gave Christ her undivided attention and enjoyed the one-on-one intimacy with Him that we Christians have in Spirit.

Mary. Mary of Bethany. What questions did you ask Him? What answers did you receive from this God made Man? While the everyday busyness, the preparation of the table, the sweeping of the hearth, went on without you, what did you learn from Christ’s words? Did He unravel mysteries that we wonder about today? Did He tell you things hidden from the scribes? Did the Rabbi allow you to travel deep into His heart and know Him beyond the Word of God? What secrets did you discover when your souls, those of dear friends, touched?

I want to know. I long to know this flesh and blood Jesus apart from what the Bible tells me. I want to sit at His feet and listen to His every word. On ancient nights, so still, in a small house lit faintly by oil-filled lamps, I ache to whisper questions that no one dares ask. What is in the heart of this living, breathing Jesus? What might we know today that remains hidden because there were not more like Mary who was not upset about many things, but instead chose what was better?

I can only imagine.

If you could be someone who had personal contact with Jesus the Man, whom would you be?

The Cool Side of the Pillow

A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest
Proverbs 6:10 (NIV)

My German grandmother holds the wicker laundry basket brimming with linen sheets and pillowcases as if embracing a child still in the womb. Without grasping the railings, she descends the steep back staircase from her upper flat, slowly, carefully, left foot, right foot, until she reaches the bottom. There, she props the basket between her stomach and the door. With one hand, her crippled fingers turn the latch counterclockwise and then the doorknob. Lacy edgings spill over the sides of the basket like snow slowly melting and hanging precariously from the eaves. She pushes the door open with her foot. April slips in, aching to rise up the stairs, enter the apartment, and devour the stale, leftover scents of winter. Grandmother steps outside. She sets the basket down and lifts up the worn, gray, cellar doors. Her right hand searches her apron pocket for the old, silver key. She finds it, picks up the basket, three steps down, cement this time, she unlocks and opens the basement door.

An old wringer washing machine sets in the corner next to Lower-Flat-Daughter-in-Law’s “modern” washer and dryer. Casters scrape against concrete as Grandmother rolls the machine next to the sturdy double rinsing tubs. She fills the tubs and the machine with hot water, empties the basket into one vat of the steaming liquid, adds detergent to the machine. She passes the soaked sheets and pillowcases through the wringer and into the old Maytag, then turns it on. The machine rocks gently, agitating the load, washing away seven nights of sleep. A quarter of an hour later, Grandmother stops the machine. She slips each piece of material back through the wringer and into the rinse water. Then, with a wooden broom handle, she swirls the bedding hard through the rinse. Once again, she slides the sheets and pillowcases through the wringer. She loads them into the wicker basket, tosses in a canvas bag filled with wooden clothespins, then goes outside where Daughter-in Law is cleaning the flower beds, admiring tiny green shoots sticking up through the soil. “Mother,” she says. “I wish you would use my washing machine and dryer. The way you do it takes so much extra work.”

Grandmother clips a clean sheet on the clothesline to dry. In her thick German accent, she answers, “It’s the work that makes best for the cool side of the pillow.”

The cool side of the pillow—that amazing sensation of soft, cool linen against your skin. There is something about it that ushers in a sense of peace and wellness with the world. It promotes a fullness of soul and gentle, restful sleep. But, as Grandmother said, a little elbow grease is needed to get that linen smelling fresh and to make it feel clean and new.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28 NIV) Have you ever thought that Jesus is the cool side of the pillow? The more work we put into our relationships with Him, the more restful our dark nights become. Many of us tend to take our problems to our beds. Isn’t it wonderful to know that we have the option of flipping our pillows over to the cool side, the Jesus side, to find instant refreshment?


I'm proud to be a contributing author to the following series of humorous devotionals.
And check out my "Kid's Bible Dictionary" and pre-teen mysteries, also from Barbour.

See all the books in the Camp Club Girls series.

See all the books in the Camp Club Girls series.
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By Max Lucado, Published by Thomas Nelson
Max Lucado has a unique way with words, and his children's book Hermie A Common Caterpillar is no exception. With simple text and bright, watercolor illustrations, the story of Hermie unfolds.

Hermie wonders why he looks and feels so common. Whenever he asks God why, God simply answers, "I'm not finished with you yet." Then, one day, Hermie feels very tired. He gets into his cozy, leafy bed, and he sleeps. And while Hermie sleeps a transformation takes place. When he wakes up, Hermie discovers that God has done something grand. You can guess what it is. Every caterpillar that lives to adulthood knows the end of the story.

Parents, please share this book and its powerful message with your children. We are all special because God loves us, and He has a unique purpose for our lives. Whenever we slump into feeling ordinary, we know that we have hope because . . .God isn't finished with us yet!

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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