If you are GSB regular, you know that in anticipation of GSB Travel Journals I publish a reading list.
Keeping that tradition alive, I offer the following books in preparation for following the GSB Team as we travel across the pond and back through history to study the christianization of England.
The books are as follows:
Bede’s Ecclesiastical History, The Venerable Bede. I love this book for the same reasons I love Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History-it is written by a man who loves God and is looking for His hand in history. I also like that Bede finished this book in 731 A.D., which makes him a lot closer to the events he describes than modern historians. The Venerable Bede has served as our posthumous tour guide before, and I expect we will lean hard on him again this time.
The White Horse King, Benjamin Merkle. The author had me hooked in the first few pages when he explained how historians are always looking for a new angle on popular historical figures to knock them off their perch but that in the case of Alfred the Great, there was a reason he is the only English monarch ever given “the Great” tag-he was truly a great man. The rest of the book did not disappoint.
I am now about a month out from suffering from the medical scare that led to this series of blog posts.
I’m happy to report my vision continues to improve from the torn retina.
Every Thursday night The Wife and I go to the bar at an historic hotel downtown for martinis. We know the bartenders by name, and they know us. We sit there, chat, and just relax.
As I was sitting there last Thursday, I felt different. It was no big thing: a drink at a bar with The Wife and some familiars. In the past, I might have been thinking about all that needed to be done, or what was on the calendar for the next day.
This time though I just savored the moment. I wasn’t worried about losing my vision, or whether my vision was going to improve following surgery. That was behind me. It was a day of prosperity, and I embraced it fully. I was happy.
On Sunday night, knowing the seriousness of the medical situation I was facing, I could not sleep.
So, as lay in bed, I begin going over Psalm 23, memorizing it verse by verse.
I had memorized it years ago but had not gone back over it in an attempt to recommit it to memory in years. Then, as I lay in bed, and later as I sat in the doctor’s office I kept going over it in my mind and meditating on it and what each verse meant.
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. 3 He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Maybe it was 50th time I had gone over it in my mind, I noticed something. In the first three verses when David is talking about the good times – the lying down in green pastures, walking beside quiet waters, the refreshing of his soul, and walking in righteousness – David speaks of the Lord in the third person.
But when David turns to the times of adversity, he refers to the Lord in the second person. When walking through a situation where death is such a possibility it casts a shadow on David’s life, he says, “You are with me . . . ,” “Your rod and staff, they comfort me . . . ,” “You prepare a table before me . . .,” and “You anoint my head with oil…”
On Monday morning when I was waiting for the doctor’s office to open to make an appointment before I suffered any permanent loss of vision, I spent time in prayer. As I was praying, I was drawn to Ecclesiastes, chapter 7.
As I started reading, verse 14 jumped off the page:
In the day of prosperity be happy, But in the day of adversity consider— God has made the one as well as the other So that man will not discover anything that will be after him.
As I began to dig into this verse, the contrast became conspicuous.
Solomon explains how one should react to the good days, the days of prosperity: “be happy.” When I was younger, I thrived on deferred gratification, whether it be working when others were playing, or saving when others were spending, telling myself I would enjoy the good days in the future. Age and experience has since taught me to embrace those now rare days youth offered so liberally. However, this was not one of those days.
Instead, the word for me was in what followed in verse 14: “but in the days of adversity consider . . . .” Our response to prosperity should be an emotional one–be happy, embrace it, enjoy it–but our response to adversity should be an intellectual one: consider. Think. Realize. Understand.
This is the second post in a series on adversity. This series is the result of a recent health scare I went through when I suffered a retinal tear in my left eye, and it reflects what I learned about the Lord from the place of adversity.
After realizing Sunday night that I was dealing with a potential loss of vision, I called my legal assistant and told her what was going on. I told her I wouldn’t be coming into the office in the morning, and I told her about a few pending urgent work matters so she could deal with them in my absence.
I tried to sleep Sunday night but I tossed and turned. In the morning I prayed and got in the Word. I was so worried, that when I prayed I said, “Holy Spirit, you are the Great Comforter, I pray that you would comfort me.” I waited, but I felt nothing. I prayed some more, and I still felt nothing.