Several years ago a group of fledging students sat around the old oak table in Ruth Bell Graham’s kitchen, listening to her stories. They were lonely and homesick. College life had been ruder than expected. Ruth’s eyes glowed as she told of her own bouts with loneliness while a boarding student in Korea, and again during her husband’s extended absences while preaching. But the joy of God’s presence during Bible study helped ease the pain, she said. “Bible students are wide-eyed travelers in the midst of wonders.”
She showed them her little notebook, one she had worn out several times. “I’ve found a leather craftsman who rebinds it for me when necessary,” she explained. “Here I jot journal entries, stories I hear, and spiritual lessons God teaches me. As you record your Bible studies, over the years you’ll actually be compiling your own personal Bible commentary.”
The next day, one of the students opened his heart to her in private, admitting defeat in his Christian life. The depth of her wisdom was veiled only by the simplicity of her response. She told him of the twelve spies in Numbers 13. They were sent by Moses to scrutinize the Promised Land. It was theirs for the taking, for God had assured them of his presence and of his conquering power. But ten of the spies lost their nerve, seeing only giants, walled cities, and strong defenses. Joshua and Caleb, on the other hand, were undaunted and full of faith. “Let us go up at once and possess the land,” they said, “for the Lord our God is with us.”
“Now,” asked Ruth, “what was the difference between the two sets of spies? Just this … ” She paused for effect. “The ten compared themselves to their problems, but the two compared their problems with God!”
And I will never forget her words that day, or the discerning smile that punched them home.
Today’s Suggested Reading
Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.” Numbers 13:30