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Promises On the Shelf

Promises On the Shelf

Anyone who’s been a college student knows the life of a nomad.  For 2-4 years you don’t have a permanent home, so your possessions have to consist of whatever you can fit into boxes and cram into the back of your friend’s truck that helps you move as long as you buy him or her a cheap meal (the unofficial favor payment for all collegiate favors).  Whether it’s a dorm room or an apartment, you can only posses what you can easily pack up and move. Your belongings consists of clothes, picture frames, maybe a couple dozen hangers, and some of those plastic Rubberware boxes for keeping things under what will hopefully be the last twin bed of your life.

When my wife and I bought our first house, it opened up a whole new world of permanence for me and it feels glorious.  Being able to have a place that is all our own that my wife and I can paint, build, and put ourselves into is a great feeling.

But one of the best things about having more settled roots?  Being able to build my own personal library, and friend have I ever done that.  I love books.  Old books in particular, but really any books will do.  I turned an entire wall of our house into a massive bookshelf slam full of books.  Will I ever read them all?  I have intentions to, but I’ll have to keep you updated; my desire to read them doesn’t quite match the amount of reading time I have at my disposal.

But while I keep most of my books at home, I have a select few that reside in my church office. There’s a set of commentaries for the occasional chance I have to preach, more Bibles in different translations than any sane person would ever really need, and a smattering of books about ministering with youth.

But anyone who looks at my office bookshelf will notice something about it.   Occupying an entire shelf  smack in the middle I have two unusual things:  plastic super-soaker water guns arranged like some kid’s strange water-gun hunting trophy.  Imagine what Teddy Roosevelt probably had on top of his bookshelf, two massive elephant guns for his many adventures. Then replace those heroic firearms with 2 cheap, colorfully plastic water guns.  It makes a great mental image, right?

Why in the world do I have these?  Because while I like to collect books, I’m also a sucker for collecting sentimental items.  Not a hoarder per se, I just like to hold on to important things.  What makes these seemingly innocuous water guns important?  I kept them from my very first-ever solo youth event I was in charge of.

They’re a memento of that occasion, of a promise being fulfilled.  My nomadic college experience was defined by the transition from my plan into what I was truly made for and called to. It was intimidating for life to take a hard shift and I was terrified of what was ahead. But I knew that God was calling me into this new adventure of ministry.  So they sit on top of my bookshelf to remind me of that change and of the divine promise to help me along the way.  Noah got a rainbow.  I got two Super Soakers.

What do you have to remind you of the promises in your life?  Whether it feels like it or not, God has made us all promises in our lives.  Promises to love us, have grace for us, and compassionately guide us over the mountains and through the valleys of our life. While we may not be promised to see the next morning, Jesus reassures us that we are promised he’ll be with us for each of those tomorrow’s we’re given. Just as he told his disciples in John 14, we have assurance that God is always present with us through the Holy Spirit.

We all need something sometime to keep us on the track God has set us on, and often that something is a reminder of the promises God made us when we set out on this journey.  My Super Soakers have traveled through four different apartments, a house, and now rest in my own ministry office. They’ll continue traveling with me for many years as a reminder of where I’ve been and a hope for wherever God is taking me.  They’ll sit on my bookshelf, and whenever I have to pack them up I’ll do so carefully and lovingly, put them in a box along with other sentimental things.  They’ll always have a home on one of my shelves, reassuring me that the promise has been kept again and that is with me on this path.

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Josh Godwin

There a handful of things in this life I truly love: my God, my wife, my dog, my town, my Cheerwine. I also love ministering with teenagers to help them realize God's love and everything God made them to be.

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