Baseball season is almost here! For me – a Little League coach – this means once again coaching 6-8 year-olds on how to play the game – teaching them how to run through first base, going over how to stand next to home plate when batting and not on top of it, and trying to keep the outfielders from wandering over to the playground. One of the toughest things to teach a young baseball player is how to keep their eye on the ball when they are up at bat. A lot of other things can be distracting, like fear of getting hit by the ball, exuberant parents shouting advice and encouragement, or a bird flying across the field. Focusing on seeing the ball and swinging the bat at good pitches is a struggle.
Eye on It – 03/2023
A Time for Calmness and Quietness
O Lord, my heart is not lifted up;
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me.
O Israel, hope in the Lord
from this time forth and forevermore.
Psalm 131 (ESV)
Forget the Former Things
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV)
As we walk through this weary world…what a pessimistic beginning to a statement that laments the challenges we face in our lives from time to time, even as believers. Yet, we can all resonate with that statement during times of difficulty. Unfortunately, in Christian higher education right now, many of us (librarians) have faced or are facing significant and systemic challenges that do not seem to be fading, which puts pressure on our faith. It is one thing when we face temporary challenges that are resolved in the short term; however, it is quite another thing when those challenges seem to be on an indefinite loop.
So, when we come to a passage, a promise from the Lord, that seems too good to be true, it challenges our faith. That is what we find in Isaiah when God gives Israel, and by extension to us as believers, an enormous promise. “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland (Isaiah 43:18-19).” What a wonderful and encouraging promise. I should forget the difficulties of the past and look forward to the new “thing” the Lord is about to spring on me. God says it is already in the works. Do I not see it? What if I said, “No!”
The challenge and hope of this promise is the context in which it is located. When we back up in this chapter, we find Israel has been in difficulty for a long period. In verse 2, Isaiah tells Israel that when you pass through the waters and rivers, I (God) will be with you, and the waters will not overtake you. When you walk through fire, you will not be burned nor set ablaze.
Over the past few years, I have struggled with serving the Lord as a library leader in a challenging environment. I have wanted to see this “new thing” the Lord is doing and move out of the waters and away from the blaze. Yet, I felt like the waters were continuing to rise, pushing me toward the blaze. Then, in what seemed like an out-of-the-blue event, God fulfilled this promise in my life. He did a new thing that removed me from the difficult environment and put me in a new place with a wonderful, hopeful future. Lord, thank you for keeping your promise!
While I want to relish in the “new thing” God has done in my life, God wants me to reflect on the process. Did you drown while I walked with you through the difficulty? No, God, you were holding me up. Did you get burned by the challenges? No, God, you wrapped yourself around me and protected me. Do you believe I will be with you during the waters and fires to come? Yes, Lord, you are faithful. Lord, thank you for keeping your promises!
Brothers and sisters, keep the faith. When you find yourself walking neck-deep in water or surrounded by the blaze, remember God is with you because He keeps his promises. Also, keep the faith when God springs the new thing on you because God is with you.
Ed is the Director of Library Services and Operations at Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville, MO. He has been a member of ACL since 2010.
Be Still and Know – 12/2022
Many years ago, I was in the North Carolina mountains with other Youth for Christ volunteer staff. We had traveled from Bradenton, Florida, to spend several days helping out at the home where we stayed: weeding the garden, helping with the goats, and fellowshipping. On this trip, I was struggling with decisions that needed to be made in my life. What path should I choose?
The Altar of Sacrifice – 11/2022
All throughout Scripture the people of God have built altars and called out to God. When our loving Lord was giving instructions to the Levitical priesthood through His servant Moses, He charged them with the responsibility for the hearth of the altar. They were to be sure the fire never went out. Never!
Mental Weeding – 10/2022
Renewing our minds as Paul asks can be difficult. Unwanted negative thoughts can come into our minds at any time, so we need to “weed” these thoughts to regain our focus. Weeding our gardens and lawns every spring is important. As librarians, we also know that weeding is an important part of collection development, to prevent overfilling our libraries with obsolete or worn books.
Time is Running Out – 09/2022
My undergraduate college had a tradition of assigning secret pals to encourage one another with gifts and messages. One year my creative secret pal covered the door to my room with Time Magazine covers and a sign that read, “Time is running out…” I enjoyed looking at my door decoration as the end of the semester with term paper deadlines and final exams approached. The door decoration reminded neighbors in my dormitory of all the work they had to do.
Transformed by the Holy Spirit – 06/2022
As I reflect on the past two years, listen to any news broadcast, or read any newspaper, I am reminded of the world crisis so many have experienced and the heartache and pain many have endured. We have made it through some unprecedented times, and we can surely thank God who has been faithful. Being a librarian in today’s environment is full of challenges that can be heartbreaking and painful. As we look toward the work of our next seasons, what better way to prepare for this new season than with the desire to be transformed by the Holy Spirit!
Tell Your Story – 05/2022
I have always loved stories. Stories are told through music, literature, biographies, and in many other ways. I teach children’s literature in our college’s education department, and my favorite genre is historical fiction. I love how it connects fictional characters and fictional scenes to create an exciting story that, for the most part, authentically reflects history. Even events such as the Olympics or the Super Bowl include the stories of the athletes and their families.
Waiting for Tulips – 04/2022
Tulips are my favorite flower. Their burst of color at the start of spring brings joy and welcomed anticipation of warmer days ahead. Growing up in southern Alabama, I never saw tulips in flower gardens or carefully manicured landscapes. Winters are not cold enough in the coastal region of the South for the blooms to form underground. God created this amazing little flower to develop its beauty and buds out of sight, deep underground during the coldest months of the winter when the surface is barren, brown, and often frozen. Now living in Ohio, every spring when these beauties start to burst forth from the cold, bare ground, I can’t help but smile!