I collect books. My intent, of course, is to read them, but I have to admit that sometimes … well maybe a little more often than sometimes … many of them remain nestled in the bookcase with my good intentions.
Stories await my time and one day, while dusting the covers, I came to terms with the fact that I would never benefit from their contents unless I made a deliberate choice to be still and read. It would require prioritizing the use of my time and the easiest solution was to eliminate television in the evening. It proved to be a worthwhile trade for the books I love to read have been penned by authors committed to the cause of Christ. Their vocations, homeland and life circumstances are varied, but their hearts are dedicated to truth.
The book I chose to start with was one of many authored by a friend I’ve never met. In fact she is one of my heroines … Corrie ten Boom, a Dutch-born woman whose beloved Holland was taken by Germany in the 1940’s. She and her family harbored their Jewish neighbors and made provisions for their escape from the cruelty of Nazi hatred. Ultimately their activities were discovered and they fell victim to that same hatred.
The arrest of the ten Boom family was followed by unimaginable suffering that claimed the lives of her sister and father. Corrie survived Ravensbruck’s death camp for women, having been released by “clerical error” just days before all prisoners her age were exterminated. Her stories are spell-binding, heartbreaking and truly inspirational. It is impossible to read her works without feeling the depth of God’s love and finding courage to persevere in the struggles of life. Though Corrie has long been home with the Lord, I continue to benefit from the bond of friendship extended in the truth of her story.
Proverbs 27:17 explains the reason that is possible. “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” That truth of Scripture came to mind as I put her book back on the shelf. The heartfelt truth of Corrie’s words had sharpened my soul and caused me to think deeper about the power to live the Christian life. Her testimony was a challenge to those coming behind her and it wasn’t an offer of ease. That shouldn’t come as a surprise. Iron sharpening iron doesn’t suggest ease. Gaining a sharp edge on a sword comes with friction heat and sparks and gaining mastery to carry the sword of the Word of God is no less a process.
Those that have endured the friction, heat and sparks of life’s hardest trials and emerged faithful to the cause of Christ have much to offer. They are witnesses of God’s faithfulness in adversity and messengers that call us to press on in the full assurance of the power of the Gospel. Their battle scars are badges of courage and testimonies that we are not alone.
Do you want to be sharpened for the cause of Christ? In the day to day demands of life, it is so easy to remain dull, unfamiliar with God’s Word and unwilling to embrace the great commission of Jesus, but we are ill-equipped when we live that way. Maybe it’s time for you to get acquainted with some friends you’ve never met. Open the Bible and read. Step into the stories of the faithful and receive instruction in Truth.
This is no time to be complacent. God is at work and He is calling us to participate. There is no greater use of time and no greater Friend than Jesus.