finish the books, finishing well, Bucket List Reimagined, library, books, stories, Chile, Pursuit of the Pudú Deer, daughters, reading, Kindle, writing, apostle John, living

Finish the Books

How often do you not finish the books you’ve picked out and started with such diligent intentions? Though a friend tells me I’m a bit obsessive-compulsive that way, it happens more than I’d like to admit.

Back when I homeschooled my girls, we learned one day that King Richard the Lionheart (1157-1199) owned a magnificent royal library of 800 manuscripts. Intrigued, we looked around our schoolroom and began to count. To our amazement, after extending the search to the rest of the house, we discovered that we possessed greater literary riches than a medieval king!

“Much of the stress people feel doesn’t come from having too much to do. It comes from not finishing what they’ve started.” –David Allen

Nowadays, I keep cutting back on the paperback clutter, but still the number of digital volumes swells daily. Recently I noticed I have 3,575 books in my 10-year-old Kindle library. My device won’t hold all of them, of course, so the majority remain shelved in the cloud. Most of them I got as freebies or for a couple of dollars at most as I put them on my wish list and waited (patiently or not) for them to go on sale.

Reading Books

As I read and finish the books, I “check out” new ones from this celestial library. No, I’ll never get around to reading them all, not if I lived two or three lifetimes with nothing to do but lie in hammock, sip tea, and read. But isn’t accessing a wide variety of options the purpose of a library?

Plus I can make at least a good dent in the attempt to finish the books.

And then there’s the additional goal of finishing all the books I want to write! In that aspect of life, I feel like when I used to joke with my husband that if God had given me a certain number of things to accomplish on earth, at the rate I was going, I would never die. 🙂

But the bottom line here is that, as the apostle Paul proclaimed, “I can do all things through Christ” (Phil. 4:13). I can do everything—even finish the books—if that’s what God wants me to do. You and I can only do God’s “all things” when we don’t try to do everything else.  

Droplet Gift #44: I will focus on finishing well whatever assignment God has called me to—the books, the job, the family, the fight, the daily race of faith.

“I’ve run hard right to the finish, believed all the way. All that´s left now is the shouting—God’s applause!” –2 Tim. 4:7, MSG

Yesterday I finished reading the Gospel of John (again) and was arrested by the final verse: “And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written” (Jn. 21:25, NASB).

The Message paraphrase puts it this way: “…I can’t imagine a world big enough to hold such a library of books.” The world couldn’t contain all the Jesus story! To me, that sounds like a reader who couldn’t get enough of the Hero. And like a writer who had so many wonderful tales to share that he had difficulty deciding what to include and what to cut out. Yet he had to end the book somewhere.

Writing Books

“Many people think that the idea is the difficult part of writing a story, and this can be true. But there is another challenge too: finishing the story.” ―William Herring

Why did the beloved disciple John choose the chapters he did? He alone of the gospel narrators relates many of Jesus’ encounters with women: the water-to-wine miracle in Cana at his mother’s request for help, the Samaritan woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery, Mary Magdalene at the garden tomb. Only John gives us the name of Mary of Bethany, who anointed Christ’s feet days before His death.

John lets us in on some of Jesus’ private conversations with men, too. Nathanael and Nicodemus, the cripple at the pool of Bethesda and the man blind from birth. And John is the only eyewitness who tells about Peter’s interlude with Jesus on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. You know, the “Do you love me? Then feed my lambs, tend my sheep” dialogue exchange.

The story has already climaxed in the cross and resurrection. For John, this concluding scene is the resolution, the tying up of the loose plot threads and a hint of what lies ahead.

“You need two things to write a great book: imagination and inclination. Without one, your book will be boring; without the other, your book won’t get finished at all.” ―Ellie Firestone

I always get the feeling that Jesus includes everyone in His care here. He tasks Peter with serving the little lambs, yes. But then He adds the grown-up sheep too—those quarrelsome rams, the crochety old ewes, and the young ewes nursing newborns. The Great Commission is no small mission.

Living Books

“You follow me,” Jesus says when Peter asks about John’s role in future stories. Peter was called to focus on and follow through with what God showed him. As are we, no matter what others do. God’s thoughtfully designed plot may be different for each of us. Whatever our part, let’s stick with and finish the books assigned to us.  

“You need God’s direction before you can prosper in anything you do. However, it takes your choices to begin; it takes your passion to stay on; it also takes your integrity to finish it well!” ―Israelmore Ayivor 

Jesus never wrote a book. But He did astounding things worth writing about. The story of His glory, full of grace and truth, will never end. John seemed sure he’d never get around to finishing all the books that could be written. Maybe that’s why it was rumored he would never die. 🙂

And that’s why I’m sure I’ll never finish reading the books about Jesus or writing about how His story intertwines with ours.

Library Books

As I tweaked the final draft of Pursuit of the Pudú Deer recently, my husband and I drove to southern Chile to visit our middle daughter. She enjoys woodworking, among myriad other hobbies, and had crafted a lovely bookshelf for her bedroom. It was filled to overflowing with books, and we’d brought more.

Will she ever finish the books? She’ll die trying, no doubt.

While down south, we also visited the German colonial town of Puerto Varas on Lake Llanquihue (a tale for another day). From there, we made a side trip to Puerto Octay, famous for its splendid summer scenery and vintage architecture.

But it was a stormy late-autumn day. Near-constant drizzle, whipping wind, and leaden clouds. Obviously not a prime moment for sightseeing. So we decided to tour a local museum and library instead.

However, the library was closed. The lights were on, but the door was locked. That might have been the saddest moment of a gray day.

But it reminded me that someday all the libraries of the world—digital and otherwise—will shut their doors for the last time. We need to finish the books now—reading, writing, and living them.

Lord, don’t take me home… “till the race is finished and the work is done. We’ll walk by faith and not by sight.” –Keith Getty

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