I’m not a note taker. Sometimes I think I’d like to be, particularly in the classroom context where I listen intently whenever there is worthy listening to be had. I never want to sit there with a conspicuously empty desk, arms crossed as though to communicate there’s nothing of note being taught. I don’t want any teacher to interrupt disrespect (particularly since I had a teacher once come up to me at the end of a semester and apologize for disliking me so much throughout the semester-clearly, people don’t automatically see your heart just because you see it). I just find that I understand the overall concepts better and internalize the impact more if I’m fully focused on the lesson without being a few beats behind trying to frantically to record what’s being conveyed.
But sometimes there’s a quote or a passage or a scripture so compelling that I know merely remembering the idea of it won’t be enough. The appearance of this scriptural poetry is always follows by a frenzied shuffle from my general direction as I try desperately to retrieve the materials needed to save the words for myself. Usually I’m too slow and I end up writing what I can on my hands because I remember I haven’t purchased loose-leaf paper in probably a decade.
The following are 5 passages from scripture that, for one reason or another, have been so affecting upon their presentation to me, that even had the scribbles on my hands been permanent, I’d still have written them there.
1)These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
This passage comes from the epistle of Paul to the Hebrews. He describes examples of their covenant ancestors who were given very specific promises of the Lord, but did not necessarily receive them in the way or the time that they might of expected. I think sometimes of Abraham being promised seed as innumerable as the sand on the seashore and then waiting until his wife was past her childbearing years before she would have a single son. We forget that when Abraham walked the earth, he didn’t already know exactly how it was going to end. He had weakness and doubt like each of us and yet he died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off.’
Being post-graduation, but pre-everything else is such a terrifying moment in life. I want certain things for my life, certain accomplishments and certain relationships and it is more difficult than I ever thought to see them afar off, see them well enough to be persuaded of them. Yet I do feel like a stranger and a pilgrim that alighted on her whirlwind eternity to have the earthly experience. I draw strength from Abraham and Sarah. I hope to borrow their lens of faith to see my own promises afar off (or perhaps near at hand).
2)The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.
I have always been compelled by the imagery of light. It is as the sun comes up or goes down and casts its golden radiance upon the land that I suddenly feel most pensive about this human experience and my mind, allowing itself new volumes of thoughtfulness often finds its way to inspiration while so lit.
I often feel weighed down by my weaknesses. It feels so physical to me that the opportunity to completely “cast off the works of darkness” seems like the most deliciously freeing sensation I could ever imagine. In moments where I’m short with someone or I say something unkind or am generally awful in my conduct, I always picture my physical heart fleshy and pink and glowing with some light from within that represents the truest version of me and it seems cankered with some sort of ash in those moments, or tar.
Oh, to burst forth through that imposing and foreign layer, to cast off the works of darkness and then get to additionally put on an armor of light. To be encircled in the warmth that I associate with that rush of pure illumination and fullness and wholeness. To then use the fortification of that armor to never feel small again, to boldly vanquish that sickly layer of ash and tar confining the truest parts of other people; to become a warrior of light? It seems to me there is no greater joy.
3)Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.
2 Corinthians 3:3
There is at times, and I hate to admit it, a disconnect between what I wish to believe and what I really trust to believe. What I write here in ink for my readers (if I have any) to ponder on is not always enough to convince myself. In order for my life to become a living testimony of what I truly believe (for I know that the Lord can help me my unbelief), I have to allow the Spirit of the living God to write in the fleshy tables of my heart.
We stand as messengers to those around us of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, but the message in ink, not matter how beautiful constructed the words will do nothing if the epistle of Christ isn’t written inside us and filling us and escaping out our fingertips and into our actions, swelling in our minds until no other thoughts, but thoughts of Him remain. The living epistle of our personal righteousness is the message that requires no ink (or wi-fi).
I didn’t notice until after I chose the scriptural moments to mention that all of them were written by the apostle Paul. I guess he speaks to me. The words of each fill me with the empowerment to live beyond words. I wish I could remember that feeling continually instead of having little spikes on my spiritual heart/brain activity monitors that are followed by lulls that make one question if the patient is still alive. I feel insufficient to act upon all the feelings that a study of the scriptures induce within me, but Paul addresses that too: “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves…but our sufficiency is of God.”