Books; January 30, 2020

John 21:25 Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.

I think we see a bit of John’s sense of humor here. However, there’s a bit of important truth here as well. The thing is, we never have all the information, so we need to act on the basis of what we have. In the world that can be risky at times, but we have a powerful safeguard: the Holy Spirit. As John had already recorded, Jesus said expressly that one of the jobs of the Holy Spirit is to “teach you all things and remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:26) That’s pretty powerful backup! We do need to hear it the first time for the Holy Spirit to be able to remind us of it, so reading the Bible is essential, but rather than being anxious about our own memory, we need to be focused on being open to the Holy Spirit. We frankly do not know the future. By faith we know our eternal destination, but even there the details are sketchy at best, and we certainly don’t know everything along the way. We are not to sweat it, but live fully in each moment in fellowship with our Lord. Gaining knowledge about God is certainly not bad, but being obsessed with prophecies about the future, even the “timeline” in Revelation, can distract us from what God wants us doing right now. Prophecy is real and relevant today, but much of what is written is human speculation rather than direct from the Lord, and filling our minds and our bookshelves with it doesn’t make us more useful in God’s kingdom. In John’s day the production of a book was a really major undertaking, since everything had to be copied by hand. Today, in extreme contrast, books can be produced almost as fast as the words can be entered into a computer. I started to say, typed, but now dictation systems are increasingly reliable. That doesn’t mean the book is worth reading! Our focus is to be on our Lord, hearing what He is saying to us and recognizing what He wants us to take in, so that we may be shaped into the disciples He desires, for His glory.

This applies to me in spades. I come from a line of bibliophiles, or even biblioholics. My mother always knew that when my father went on a business trip to Tokyo, shortly after he got back there would be a box of books arriving that he had purchased while there. After we got to Omura we donated over 1000 volumes to a Christian school, but then our own acquisitions keep piling up. On the other side of the equation, my maternal grandfather wrote quite a few books, and for that matter, I write an average of over 500 words a day, which I understand is a good goal for someone who wants to be an author. However, my motive isn’t to produce books, but rather to cement in my own mind and heart what God says to me each morning. My wife then edits that a little and then I make it available on the Internet. I actually went so far as to publish a printed collection at one point, but the response was hardly overwhelming. I keep flirting with the idea of specific e-books, but I’m not convinced that’s God’s idea. The thing about books, whether reading or writing them, is that God is the source of all genuine knowledge, so the focus needs to be on Him and all the glory go to Him.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the gift for words that You have given me. May it be used always as You intend, not burdening people but lifting them up and drawing them to You, for their blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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