I have a number of posts in my Drafts folder - twenty-seven to be precise - so I'm going to post some (not all!) of them before writing any new ones.
At some stage towards the end of last year, I decided to post on some of the books I'd recently read. Here are the books:
Conn Iggulden's series on Ghengis Khan: Wolf of the Plains; Lords of the Bow; Bones of the Hills; Empire of Silver, by Conn Iggulden
The Well Educated Mind, by Susan Wise Bauer
The Woman with the Book, an account of Gladys Aylward's life, by M.A. Mijnders
Time for Favour, by John S. Ross
The Promised One: a ten week Bible Study - seeing Jesus in the Old testament, by Nancy Guthrie
Jesus on Every Page, by Dr David Murray
Glory Veiled and Unveiled, by Gerald M, Bilkes
Selected to Live, by Johanna-Ruth Dobschiner
Ben Carson: Gifted Hands
The Last Days of Jesus, by T.V. Moore
There's the list, and here's the photo.
I read Conn Iggulden's series on Ghengis Khan. Four books of can't-put-it-down reading. Throughout the books I had a series of emotions: amazement, horror, inspiration, horror, sadness, horror, joy, thankfulness ...
I felt amazement and inspiration at the wonder of this family that had been left with nothing, and yet survived.
I felt horror at the brutality of the way in which they were abandoned.
I felt sadness at the lives people lived, and how little joy they knew.
I felt horror at the ease with which people killed.
I felt horror time and time again - at times, it was because of the death of one person; at other times it was at the deaths of tens of thousands in a short space of time.
Death and bloodshed were the order of the days. But what never stopped ringing in my heart throughout the whole series was a feeling of thankfulness for the place and era in which God has placed me. These words sum it up:
'The lines have fallen unto me in pleasant places.
I have a goodly heritage.' (Psalm 16:6)
They really have. And I really do.
Reading of lives lived without Christ, without the Gospel, without hope ... makes for difficult reading on one level, although reading this author's work is no chore. DR has his Emporer series lined up for me now.
* * *
Some of the books - like the Khan series - come to an end and I haven't lifted a pen once to mark any pages. Others, however, have a different story to tell!
My copy of Jesus on Every Page looks like this ...
... with page after page of underlining, of filled post-it notes, and of marks and stars in the margins.
Soon, I'm going to read this book again - straight through, with no stopping for further studying, no pausing to write my thoughts (I'll try and stick to this), and no back-and-fore to relevant sermons or articles elsewhere.
* * *
'How could this have happened?' - seriously, where was every decent-hearted citizen?
Would we act differently? - after all, there are more unborn babies being killed every year than there were Jews being killed, and yet we sleep at night.
'How could they have been so accepting?' - was it because a different era from today's made people more accepting of authority? Is that why countless thousands quietly stepped out of their homes and onto trains? Or does the threat of death cause a numbness that will accept orders, unquestioningly?
More questions than answers, I'm afraid. But reading of what was taking place in Germany in the 1930s and comparing it with what I see on mainland Europe, in the UK and in the US and other Western nations makes me fear for the future. I'm glad I can take that fear to the One who casts out fear. I'm glad the future is in HIS hands.
But that does not mean we don't fight the encroachments to our liberties. We'd jolly well better fight - and fight with all our might. Otherwise, how can we face future generations but with shame at how we capitulated for the sake of peace and comfort?
* * *
Both Selected to Live and the Ghengis Khan series made me wonder at God's providence. In the historical note at the end of Empire of Silver, Iggulden says this:
The third son of Genghis was great Khan for just twelve years, from AD 1229 to 1241. At a time when the Mongols were sweeping west into Europe, Ogedai's death would be one of the crucial turning points of history. Western Europe could not have stood against them. The medieval castles there were no more daunting than walled Chin cities, and in the field, the Mongol style of fast-striking tactical warfare would have been practically unstoppable. It is no exaggeration to say the future of the West changed when Ogedai's heart failed.
The brilliant tactical manoeuvres of Liegnitz and the Sajo river were rendered void by the Mongol withdrawal. They are rarely taught outside military schools, in part because they did not lead on to conquest. Politics intruded on Tsubodai's ambition. If it had not, all history would have changed. There are not many moments in history when the death of a single man changed the entire world. Ogedai's death is one such moment. Had he lived, there would have been no Elizabethan age, no British Empire, no Renaissance, perhaps no Industrial Revolution. In such circumstances, this book could very well have been written in Mongolian or Chinese.
I couldn't but read these words:
"There are not many moments in history when the death of a single man changed the entire world"
with something of a smile on my face. There was the death of a man two thousand years ago too. He died, not of heart failure, but because He had a heart to save His people. Ogedai's death was the end of his rule. But this man, Christ Jesus - His death, then resurrection, is the cause of his continuing rule. He will reign for ever and ever.
God's plan of salvation is amazing - read about that in Jesus on Every Page - and God's works of providence are too. The Mongols were stopped from coming West. Our providence was to be very different for, after all, God had 'many people in this city' (Acts 18) and in these countries.
And so, whether we're reading about the past, about our present, or about the future; about God's work of redemption and of creation, our hearts cannot but praise our God, from whom all blessings flow.