before the sun goes down

"Be of good courage, and let us behave ourselves valiantly for our people, and for the cities of our God: and let the LORD do that which is good in His sight" (I Chronicles 19:13).

Sunday, June 30, 2013

It is the Same Sword

From a child, I have loved the stories of history.  What joy to read of noble men and women!  To hear rousing accounts of clashing battles!  To learn of significant points (both high and low) in the history of mankind and gain instruction from the past!  These have ever thrilled and challenged my adventurous heart.  O how I have longed to be where great things happened!  To walk and stand where heroes trod!  Even to view and touch articles that were used by those who went before me.
You can then understand my feelings as a child, when blessed at times to go and see places that I had read about.  I am so grateful that my parents took our family to places to see for ourselves.  What learning times I had! I recommend such trips for every family.  You don't always have to travel far.  Here are just a few of the places I was able to experience.

In Diamond, Missouri, at the George Washington Carver National Monument, I stood and saw the site of the cabin where he was born.  My brother, sister, cousin, and I walked, nay, ran down the trail to the spring (still flowing) where George fetched water as a boy.  I remember looking up at the life-size statue of the young "plant doctor," and wondered, "If I had lived back then, would he have wanted to be my friend?"

In St. Joseph, Missouri, my family and I went to see where Johnny Frye, the first Pony Express rider, set out west towards San Francisco.  Think of itten days to traverse plain, mountains, and desert!  Through weather, outlaws, and Indian attack those young wiry lads brought the mail with speed and devotion.  As a young boy, I stood at the Pony Express Stable museum and trembled deliciously to think, "It happened here."  Years later, as a man, I was in Wyoming and went out on some friends' ranch and saw where a Pony Express station once stood.  There I experienced the same shiver.  "How exciting to think, I got to see this!"  

I hiked the hill of the Little Bighorn region in Montana, and saw the place where General George Armstrong Custer and his men had their last stand.  I'd look at each marker, and wonder what each man thought as he tried to hold his ground.  And I'd try to picture Crazy Horse and his warriors, as they gained victory thinking about these mighty men on both sides, wishing I could have been able to sit with each and learn why they were fighting and that I would have had the opportunity to share the Gospel with them.

We toured Daniel Boone's last home in Defiance, Missouri.  How incredible to see the narrow windows crafted for defense, amazing furniture the great woodsman had fashioned with his own skillful hands, and even the threaded door hinges he designed to keep the wooden floors from getting scratched.  It was there I saw Ticklicker, Daniel's famous rifle, and I would have touched it too, but it was on the other side of the glass. 

I got to walk through Squire Boone's Caverns, and remembered how God had saved the life of Daniel's kid brother by having him fall into the cave while he was pursued by hostile natives.  The escapades of this Revolutionary War hero and the first Baptist preacher in Kentucky filled me with fervor.  God's providence and care was made very evident to me as I looked at the spot where he was delivered.  The words he carved on the stones of his mill nearby, still ring in my ears: "My God my life hath much befriended; I'll praise Him till my days are ended."

Whenever I see an historical marker, I want to stop and see what it says.  Even just this spring, My wife, daughter, and I stopped several times while driving through Kansas to see an old train station, stone arch bridge, church, and a one room schoolhouse from 1896.  The stone schoolhouse stood alone on one end of a pasture.  We pulled over, piled out, and looked in wonder.  You could see the bell still in the tower, two stone outhouses (presumably one for boys and one for girls), and the pump for the schoolyard well.  We imagined children walking up the lane to school, and wondered what became of them. Who taught in this place?  Who were the students?  Did a courageous student stand up to a bully in that yard?  What was accomplished in history because of truths taught?  What has been lost in education in the generations following?  How I wished to venture closer, to explore, to peek in the windows.  I would have paid for a tour, but alas, it was desolate, the only signs of life in the area a herd of cattle grazing a hundred yards off.  So we drove on.

For years I have picked up various items for my collection: 

a Civil War bullet that was found on a battlefield (perhaps the Battle of Wilson's Creek)
stone arrowheads and chippings left by native Americans in Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Wyoming
a couple tin cans (used and discarded by pioneers) that I found along the Oregon Trail
various articles, including instruments from a ship, salvaged on an historic beach in Two Harbors, Minnesota
—ancient pottery I dug out of the earth with my own hands in Israel

These and other objects are great tools for teaching lessons from the past, giving inspiration for the mind in our present day, and can stir up motivation to take up a challenge for the future.  Being able to see and even hold pieces of history can make events become more "real", assist us in understanding what others went through, and encourage us to live uprightly in our generation.

Our daughter, Tirzah Carmichael is named in honor of Amy Carmichael, the Irish missionary to India, who served faithfully for 55 years.  Amy's life, ministry, and writings have been a blessing to multitudes and a testimony to the grace and power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Let's consider her words in one instance...

"Someone gave me a bit of brick and a little slab of marble from Rome.  It was wonderful to touch one of them and think, Perhaps the apostle Paul or one of the martyrs touched this as they passed.  But how much more wonderful is it to think that we have, for our own use, the very same Sword our Lord used when the devil attacked Him...We have the same Book that He had, and we can do as He did.  So let us learn [His words] that they may be ready in our minds; ready for use at the moment of need - our Sword which never grows dull and rusty, but is always keen and bright.  So once more I say, let us not expect defeat, but victory.  Let us take fast hold and keep fast hold of our Sword, and we shall win in any assault of the enemy."

What delight we should take in the Scriptures!  Think of itGod inspired men to write His words down, and has preserved those words for us even today.  The very same "sword of the Spirit"!  The "quick and powerful"!  The trusty two-edged weapon!  The Book that declares "the end from the beginning"!  That reveals the truth of the God of the universe!  That can make a sinner "wise unto salvation", and can grow a believer to be "throughly furnished unto all good works"!  The same Book which was wielded by Jesus Christ, the apostles, the martyrs, missionaries such as Livingstone, Hudson, and Carmichael, and so many others, has been laid in your hand. 

Let us NOT lightly esteem it!
Let us NOT neglect the use of it!
Let us NOT despise the treasure which our Lord has entrusted with us!

"Let us take fast hold and keep fast hold of our Sword, and we shall win in any assault of the enemy."

There is still time to win a battle before the sun goes down.