What He Means by What He Said

A Memory of Seminary Years: My favorite professor during my seminary years was Dr. C. He was a medical doctor (an OB-GYN) before he left full-time medical practice to teach seminarians and our spouses. He and his wife mentored scores of us by way of their love for the Lord and for one another. Dr. C. (and Mrs. C.) were among the most gentle folks I’ve ever known. Dr. C. has since gone on to be with the Lord but I can still see his face in my mind and hear his voice and his pastoral demeanor. And Mrs. C. still communicates with my wife and encourages her, even across the many miles. Dr. C. used to tell us his favorite New Testament verse was Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” And that was his nature. You knew what he was like by what he did.

Lightning and Thunder (Heralds): Last night where I was, a massively violent thunderstorm passed through the area. (Actually, it’s still going on as I write.) The lightning was so bright, so formidable, so terrifying, that it was impossible to sleep. Even being deaf as a stump as I am, I could hear it and could not sleep through it, even though I knew I had to rise at 0400 to begin my day. The night sky continually lit up in webs of electric flashes that would shame any 4th of July Independence Day celebration for us Americans. And the walls of my little apartment shook. I could see my water bottle on my bedside table shake where it lay beside the Dickens novel I’m reading. There was no way to avoid the lightning. It was simply there, for all to see, overwhelming in its power and terror and, dare I say it, beauty. The thunder and lightning heralded greatness. It was as if the heavens were declaring the glory and greatness of something or even someone.

Connection to Scripture: One of the psalms we’re about to go through in our Sunday school class is Psalm 90, a psalm penned by Moses. The imagery in the psalm is not hidden: mountains (v. 2); dust (v. 3); flooding (v. 5); and especially of the myriad contrasts between God’s eternal power and being vs. man’s temporality and dependence. Verse 10 reads like a line out of the Three Witches in Macbeth: “The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away” (Psalm 90:10, ESV). Again, it is the overwhleming obviousness of God’s nature demonstrated via God’s creation. Dr. C.’s nature was demonstrated by the ways he treated us as seminarians and as husbands and fellow pilgrims. Mrs. C.’s mentoring is obvious because she still checks on my wife and our family, even after all these years. The lightning last night, and even now, jolted me all night out of any of my plans to sleep. No, it was as if God was shaking things up in order that I might listen, make take heed, might attend.

Moses’ Prayer: One of my go-to verses of the Bible is Psalm 90:12. It is part of Moses’ prayer. “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12, ESV). There is so much wisdom in that verse I think I could write a book on it. It speaks to our temporality, our short span of time, if you will, to do that for which we were created.

Takeaway and Encouragement: As I type on my laptop and look out the window, the skies are almost dark, and yet it is near noon. The rainfall continues. The area I’m in is under a flood warning. Two inches of rain have already fallen. It is so obvious that nature and the Author of nature are unspeakably marvelous, massive, and dangerous. How much greater, then, is the Architect of these storms, of the flashes of lightning webbing across the firmament, of the rumblings that shake my thermos of water, etc.

Dr. C. and Mrs. C. heralded love, gentleness, and mentorship to me and my family during my seminary years. The evidence was clear to see. These storms raging in my area are formidable, impossible to deny for anyone who cares about the truth. Moses taught us to number our days via learning from the visual contrasts between God’s transcendence (and immanence) and our dependence and finitude. It is almost as if God shows us what he means by what he said, almost in fact as if creation heralds its Creator and bids us look up to the Architect of the theologian’s mind, the OB-GYN’s skilled hands, and the fruits of the Spirit of the redeemed.

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