Thank You; Comforting Thoughts

Thank you to all who responded to the last post. So very interesting to hear a bit of your stories. This reminds me of my summer after fourth grade.  We had moved from Findlay to Bowling Green, Ohio.  These towns (little cities) were just a mere half hour from each other, but to me, they were worlds apart. Life started over for me in BG, as Bowling Green so often is called.  That summer, I walked about six blocks to the local library and checked out books. I discovered the biography section of the children’s library and fell in love with stories of people who lived before me. Clara Barton was one of my favorites.  I was a slow reader, a struggling reader, but these stories based upon real people fascinated me.

The pages from your stories that you’ve described also touched me. We learn from each other. While the Bible contains many literary genres, certainly story is its most prominent genre. Obviously, God wants us to learn how to live our lives through the examples —  good, bad, and mixed — of others.

Romans 15:4 tells us, “Whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures, we might have hope” (NASB).   History-biography underpins Scripture much as muslin and thick batting provide substance to a quilt, a comforter. Didactic stitching woven through the dense material makes directive, connective, and comforting sense of it.

Romans 12: 9-10 instruct, “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor.”  I discover how to exercise these directives through such biblical examples as Jonathan, son of King Saul and through Barnabas described in the book of Acts. I also “see” what these qualities look like through my friends and family. And what they don’t look like.  Then I take these biblical instructions and human pictures and superimpose them on myself to observe how I fit the patterns and how I don’t.

Growing in Christ begins with a reflective, analytical process mixed with humility and honesty followed by confession, repentance, and obedient steps.

I’m so thankful that God uses story to teach, not just imperatives (do this; don’t do that). But then, He’s the perfect teacher. He wired us and teaches us accordingly. Too bad humans aren’t more cooperative.  At least, I want to have the “want to,” and I’m sure you do too.  Lord, grace us with more “want to” and more “follow through.”

In my last post, I asked you a series of questions about your process of growth in Christ and your recommendations in helping others, especially youth, grow in the Lord. I appreciate the answers I received and hope others found them helpful too.

I suppose I should answer some of those questions too!  In my next post, I’ll describe some of my own spiritual, growth journey.

I’ll close with a page from the biography of Samuel Lamb (1925 – Aug. 3 2013), a Chinese pastor.*  He experienced and witnessed the principle of “more persecution, more growth.” The son of a baptist pastor, Samuel began to preach at age 19. He spent over twenty years (1958-1979) in prison, sharing Christ, and out of prison he led a growing congregation.  While persecution is not essential to personal growth, suffering is.  The foibles and sin of our innate (fallen) nature require it — not for salvation, but for transformation into Christ’s goodness by God’s infinite grace. There is plenty of Scripture to support this claim.

I want to close with a most touching Lamb quotation for our reflection.  I have no trouble reading the blazonly clear stitches on his quilted life, while the thick consistency of his material offer comfort.

“My dear wife died while I was in prison. I was not allowed to attend her funeral.

It was like an arrow of the Almighty until I understood that God allows the pain, the loss, the torture,

but we must grow through it.”  

* “Miraculous Ways.” World. August 24,2013, p. 14.

Categories: Spiritual Growth | Tags: , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Thank You; Comforting Thoughts

  1. I have always loved reading biographies & memoirs.Real people, real stories. How fun it has been to write my grandmother’s story of teaching in Arizona 100 years ago and discover it has resonated with so many readers never privileged to know her. I think what has made it interesting is that all of us remember hearing bits of stories our grandparents told us when we were children. Elsie’s story gives readers my age a “picture” of what it might have been like for their grandparents. When I speak to ladies group I always encourage them to write a journal for each grandchild to tell them what mattered in their life, to leave a written testimony to be discovered someday. To make a difference with written words .
    Barbara Anne Waite- author “Elsie- adventures of Arizona Teacher 1913-1916”

    • kltolsen

      Thanks so much for your comments! Your advise is so wise! Ah, I’ve seen your book, and now I must read it! Elsie’s story would be near the time of Catherine Marshall’s story of her mother as a 19 year old teacher in Tennessee in 1912. Marshall’s book, Christy, was turned into a TV show (of course not as good as the book). When I was a new teacher in Scotts Valley, California back in 1978, I read and studied Christy with my 9th graders!

      When I was in Tuscon last January with my husband and cousin, we discovered the book, I Am Lavina Cumming, by Susan Lowell, who tells stories of her grandmother’s childhood. Lavina grows up in the southern region of the Arizona territory until she is ten, when she is sent to live with an aunt in Santa Cruz, California, after her mother dies. We read a number of chapters aloud in the car while we traveled back from Tuscon to Phoenix and finished the book after we returned to our home in Prescott Valley. The story is so warm and endearing, and especially connected with us since we just visited some of her home locations in southern Arizona and since Paul and I used to live in the Santa Cruz area!

      I’ve been writing stories for my little grandsons, and Barbara, you inspire me to continue! Life is so busy that it is easy to set aside recording our stories for our children and grandchildren. For those who are intimidated by journal writing, they may want to consider being interviewed by a family member and recorded. Oral stories are a precious legacy! Thanks for your encouragement, Barbara!

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