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Somewhere between the trivial and the tremendous

May 15, 2008

I am not unaware of, but am unable to write about, Myanmar and China. I don’t live there; there is nothing for me to say but, “Lord, help, send help.” And ultimately, only the Gospel can help, because there is no other way a human heart can withstand the incomparable grief being dispensed in those lands. So, if the mundane reflections from my house and the encounters I make in the course of its administration seem noisome or, worse, callous, in the wake of massive tragedy: please, avail yourself of any of the 70 million-plus other blogs out there, or go to China or Myanmar yourself. My life focus is, as my blog title discloses, my house: its householders, the ideas and conversation developed and enjoyed therein, and my quirky aversion to people who use “awesome” to describe things that are perfectly common.

I am reading again; the remarkable thing is the duration of time that I was not reading. I have read my Bible daily, but have not opened another book since February, when I read a book on sock knitting. I have a longstanding practice of reading a book through once I start it, but stopped short in the middle of Gordon Clark’s Commentary on Colossians and Loraine Boettner’s The Millennium. I simply plead diminished engagement.

The millennial positions don’t honestly matter very much to me; they’re human constructs. Everyone thinks his is Scriptural. The point on which I am in complete accord with Boettner is that our Lord’s second coming will differ as much from all our ideas of it as his first advent differed from the Jewish construct of their Messiah’s coming.

A few days ago, I picked up The Millennium where I left off, and now read it while walking on my treadmill for an hour a day. I had been walking only half an a day a few days a week until recently; perhaps the increased exercise that is finally possible for the first time in nearly a year has somehow enabled me to read again as well.

Intellectual tone works like muscle tone. Just as I once had a portion of athletic endurance before illness diminished my strength, I had a reserve of intellectual endurance that could be revived. Perhaps 3-1/2 years of college, a year and a half of graduate school, and three years of law school toned some neurons after all. But my neurons are still sluggish and require a fair amount of encouragement.

Engaging me instantly was Counterfeit Miracles, by B. B. Warfield. It’s been on my shelf for several months. Finally, I took up and read the Foreword by John Robbins and was engaged. Then I began to read the book itself. How could I possibly resist a book that begins, “When our Lord came down to Earth he drew Heaven with him”?

The more impossible question is, how could I set down Warfield and instantly become involved in such an excruciatingly mundane miasma as trying to fetch an in-store pick-up at REI?

I don’t know. What I know is that I learned more reading Psalm 39 than I learned in the course of acquiring a B.A., an M.P.H, and a J.D. in elite institutions: “…that I may know how frail I am.”

I am presently reading Proverbs and finding peace in the thought that Solomon had a lot more resources than I did as a parent, set as poor an example as I did as a parent, and had an evil jerk for a son. On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being perfect and 10 being evil jerk, my child scarcely notches the 2 mark. Rehoboam had to be a greater disappointment to his parents than your child or mine who made some decisions that we judge as rather poor. Rehoboam wouldn’t have stood a chance of being elected President in our own Age of Likeability, but God nonetheless placed him in the Messianic line. And he may not have heeded his wise father’s instruction, but he preserved it, making it possible for his descendant Hezekiah to copy it, for the everlasting good of the Church. But the wisest purely mortal man who ever walked the earth, and who wrote, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it”–the great king whom God gave “wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart”– was someone who in totally other ways, was a fair amount like me. God filled our hands with tools, not with outcomes, and what a good thing that is.

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