New Books, a New Word, and a Lesson on Humility from Jeremiah
For my birthday, my in-laws sent me $20, so I decided to get some new books. Not that I need any new books, mind you, because I have quite a few that I haven’t read yet. But I was at the Cedar Hills Mall with my son last weekend because he wanted to go to Game Trader, and there is a Powell’s Books right next door. I just couldn’t resist. I want to share what wonderful books I found, in reverse order (because I want to write more about the first one I found).
The last book that I found was “Man In White” by Johnny Cash. I went to the music section looking for another biography of Johnny Cash and was pleasantly surprised to find that he had written a novel I did not know about. This book is Cash’s novelization of the life of the apostle Paul. I’ve only started the Introduction, but I will be posting a review when I finish this book. I think it’s going to be a good one!
The second book that I found was “Edge of Eternity” by Randy Alcorn. This book is a Christian novel. I’ve read some of Alcorn’s other books and really enjoyed them, so I am looking forward to getting a chance to delve into this one. With all the other books on my list, this one might be a while. I never seem to find as much time to read as I would like.
The first book I found was “What the Bible is all about: Bible Handbook NIV Edition” by Dr. Henrietta C. Mears. It looks like it will be a great resource for my Bible study. I’ve already learned some new things about the book of Jeremiah, which I am in the middle of reading. Although this isn’t the type of book you would read from cover to cover, it will be a great help to read the chapter on each book of the Bible as I begin reading it. This might slow down my already-behind-schedule Bible reading schedule, but if I get more out of my scripture reading that’s okay.
The discussion of Jeremiah begins this way, putting the whole book into perspective:
Here is the story of a diffident, sensitive lad who was called from the obscurity of his native town to assume, at a critical hour in the nation’s life, the overwhelming responsibilities of a prophet. (Mears, pg. 237)
I must confess that when I read this section of Mears’ book, I didn’t know what the word “diffident” meant, so I had to look it up. According to Dictionary.com, diffident means “lacking confidence in one’s own ability, worth, or fitness; timid; shy; restrained or reserved in manner, conduct, etc.” This definition is consistent with how I saw Jeremiah as I read what he wrote, and yet Mears’ concise manner of summarizing who Jeremiah was helped to solidify my mental image of him. And it is always good to learn a new word!
The diffident Jeremiah provides a perfect lesson on humility. Jeremiah did not think he was qualified to be God’s prophet. He thought he was too young, among other things. And according to Mears, in Jewish society most others would have thought him too young as well. But those who think they are unqualified, and sometimes those we think are unqualified, are often just the type of people God chooses to use for His glory. These are the humble ones who know they must rely on God for everything. Absolutely everything.
I think that as a follower of Christ, this is an important lesson to grasp. One of the gifts God has given me is the gift of encouragement. This lesson on how God uses the humble is important to me in two respects. First, I must remember that even when I do not think I am qualified for the task of encouraging someone, if He has called me to do it, He will give me the strength and wisdom necessary to accomplish it. Second, I must remember to use my gift of encouragement to spur on and embolden others who may not seem qualified, but whom God has called for some task. When a fellow Christian says, in Jeremiah fashion, “I’m too young” or “I can’t do that” or “I don’t speak eloquently enough,” I need to remind them what the Lord said to Jeremiah: “Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you”. Jeremiah 1:8 (NIV).
I’ve heard a saying that humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of others more. But as I read Jeremiah and thought about what he has to teach us about humility, I realized that a better saying is that humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of God more. God made us in His image and made us to be in relationship with Him. We were never meant to live this life on our own, but to live dependent on our ultimate source of strength and wisdom, the Lord Jesus Christ.
I love books, and think that was a wonderful way to use your birthday money. 🙂 And then for God to use it right away in the book of Jeremiah? More wow! I love and am so encouraged when you write, Linda. Time after time I see Him at work, and I love that, as much as I love the part of Jeremiah being considered too young, being too shy, etc. I read about those OT prophets and am so amazed at what they did. Would I?
God bless you and all that He asks you to do!
I found what Dr. Mears said about Jeremiah very interesting, so I got out my “Halley’s Bible Handbook NIV” published by Zondervan Publishing House in 2000.
Here is how they characterized Jeremiah in the opening paragraph (page 392): “Jeremiah experienced the end of the monarchy, the final agony of the nation of Judah. He was a pathetic, lonely figure, who was God’s final appeal to the Holy City, which had become hopelessly and fanatically attached to idols. Jeremiah cried out that if only they would repent, God would save them from Babylon.”
It must have been a rather difficult, and extremely humbling position for Jeremiah to be in, as he pleads with the people to turn from their wickedness.
I am thankful you wrote about this, as I was able to gain a new perspective on the Prophet Jeremiah.
God bless you for your ministry!
Barbee, Thank you for adding that from Halley’s! I love the description of Jeremiah as pathetic. It does seem to fit. I would not have wanted to be in his shoes. Peace, Linda
Thank you, Linda
“I must remember that even when I do not think I am qualified for the task of encouraging someone, if He has called me to do it, He will give me the strength and wisdom necessary to accomplish it.”
I have a project on my list that will take more out of me than I would normally give. Our Pastor mentioned something today that has me thinking very deeply … He says God’s asks are always greater than our ability. If we can do it without effort, then it’s not a biggie but if He stretches us beyond ourselves, then we have no choice but to allow Him to equip us for the task.
Thanks for this beautiful post. I take it as confirmation of His word to me today.
Ann, I have no doubt the Lord will provide you the strength and wisdom you need for this task He has set before you. Then guess who will get all the glory? 🙂 Glad I could be an instrument of His confirmation this morning. Peace, Linda
I love Jeremiah, and sometimes I think he gets a bit overlooked as he is, as you say, a little more on the shy side than Isaiah or Paul. I didn’t know Johnny Cash also wrote – sounds intriguing! Hope you and your family are getting on ok, after losing your cat, xxchar48
Char, There is a lot of great scripture in Jeremiah. It’s been a while since I read it last and am glad to rediscover what God did through him. As for Cash, other than his autobiography and music, I didn’t know he wrote either. Now I just have to find time to read “Man in White.” And thank you for your concern about us at our loss of Tom. We miss him a lot, but are getting along okay. Peace, Linda