Monthly Archives: March 2014

Holy Sandpaper from Habbakuk


One of the things I delight in doing is writing devotionals. I may have mentioned earlier in this blog that I am writing a devotional based on scripture from each book of the Bible. The title of the work as a whole is “Holy Sandpaper,” a title I’ve taken from my dear pastor’s wife Lindsey who used that title for a women’s prayer retreat she led one Saturday. She gave me permission to use it, by the way! The theme is that God loves us so much He spends a lot of time polishing us for the future jobs He plans for us. Whether or not He plans hard times for us, He uses them when they come, for our good and for His glory. Many of the devotionals were written concerning a “holy sandpaper” season in my life or that of someone close to me. However, today’s devotional, using Habbakuk 2:20, is not one of those.


The verse is Habbakuk 2:20: “But the Lord is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.”

I can easily spin myself back in time to a routine Sunday morning at Clarkesville Baptist Church. Choir members in short white robes with very big sleeves are singing reverently with ascending and descending dynamics, “The Lord is in his holy temple, the Lord is in his holy temple, let all the earth keep silence, let all the earth keep silence before him.” Some siblings in our awesome troop of Knight children (somewhere between five and seven of the ten of us at that time) liked to make fun of one or two in the choir (on the way home, that is!). One who caught our attention was a tall thin, almost bald gentleman who had a distinctive nose and sang through it heartily and with vigor. But though we found humor in the choir’s rendition, the message was not lost on me.

God was in His holy temple and all the earth should keep silence. I didn’t really study about what all that might mean. It seemed obvious at the time. God was on His throne and the earth should worship Him. It was that simple. I might not have been too sure of what worship meant then. It was a forced quiet time (no giggling or passing of notes!) heavy with the scent of candles and pew wax and decorated with fancy hats and white gloves.

Now, many years later, after children, grandchildren, deaths, weddings, disappointments, victories, a parade of presidents, world shattering tragedies and refreshing realizations–now more than ever I hear this message like the clear note of a silver bell. Only now it’s even simpler: God is holy; I am not.

God in His holiness made provision for me to be covered with a mantle of purity paid for by Jesus’ blood. In many, many scripture passages we’re encouraged to sing praises for what God has done for us, to shout and play instruments and publish His good news. But there are times when we all need to hush, keep silent, and just know that He is God.

Lord, we’re bowing before You and we’re trying to listen, trying to close out all the chatter and distractions and just listen. We want to hear You and we want to obey Your commands. Help us in our quest, we pray. Amen.

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March 21, 2014 · 1:47 pm

Another Riding Shotgun Note

Changes in farm operations and, therefore, a veterinarian’s responsibility, have been huge in the last fifty years. Not only have the big operations made the little farms turn to planted pines, but the little ones who do appear are often run as hobby farms by either men or women. Some of those changes are reflected in my note from the 1980’s:

Probably the woman who worried the most about her cows during calving season (rest of the year, too, for that matter) was Sarah Williams. Sarah and her husband were from Florida and most of the time he was still in that sunny state while she was in Georgia coaxing calves to eat. The couple were in the process of retiring and starting a cattle ranch in Grady County.

Sarah was small with tiny hands. Her face was round, framed by dark curls and she was eternally cheerful, yet anxious and dubious. She had no long years of training in animal husbandry, just a desire to “learn the ropes.” She had a sweet whiny voice and, though she apologized for it, she called any time of day or night to ask Charles’ advice or ask him to come. It wasn’t unusual during calving season for her to call two or three times in the middle of the same night and wee hours of morning. She might call eight or ten times, in fact, about the same cow before the poor girl finally delivered. Sometimes Charles would strip to the waist in a cold biting wind in the dark of the night only to find the cow far from ready to deliver. Just as he got warm again and fell into a deep sleep the phone would ring again and Sarah would be sure that this time the cow was really ready.

Charles was extremely patient, I thought. He would shrug his shoulders after hanging up the phone and say, “Sarah again. She thinks maybe the cow’s ready. I’ll have to go.”

Charles explained Sarah’s anxiety by retelling one of his favorite stories. He arrived on the scene one night to find Sarah at the back end of a cow giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to an unborn calf. She was covered in mud and blood and her eyes were wide with fear. He’d explained to her that the calf wasn’t designed to start breathing until it was out of the womb. “You mean I did this for nothing?” she asked. “Pretty much,” he told her. To me he said, “Anybody that dedicated, you have to admire.”

Once, after a particularly trying week when Charles had been to Sarah’s farm after hours a dozen or so times, I heard a knock at our front door. Leaving luncheon preparations, I found Sarah on the front porch, an anxious smile dimpling her face. “I’ve brought you a peace offering for keeping your husband out so much lately,” she said as she handed me three pints of mayhaw jelly. It was really good jelly and I forced myself to remember her kindness, her naivete, her eagerness when next she woke us at 1:00 a.m. to say “I’ve been down to the barn and that cow I called about earlier is standing. Shouldn’t she be lying down?”

P.S. I don’t think Sarah’s husband had his heart in building a ranch operation in Georgia. They moved back to Florida!

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I Myself Am Going

“…and the inhabitants of one city will go to another and say, ‘Let us go at once to entreat the Lord and seek the Lord Almighty. I myself am going.” Zechariah 8:21

God was once again starting out with his people, his returned people, his beloved people whom he’d disciplined with the anger of Babylon. He was gathering them to himself again. God tenderly spoke through Zechariah about “boys and girls playing” and “the seed will grow well” and “the fasts will become joyful.” And the real reconciliation would come in their obedience to him. God said, “and the inhabitants of one city will go to another and say, ‘Let us go at once to entreat the Lord…’

From village to village, from city to city, people would entreat and seek the Lord. And when they sought him, they would find him. They would ask him before they acted. They would ask him if he wanted another church built, a new ministry begun, a new river crossed. Instead of running ahead of him, they would walk with him. They would ask, they would seek, and they would find. God is mysterious, but he isn’t hidden from those who diligently seek him.

Three women sat in stunned silence after a phone call had given them horrible news. A neighbor’s young son only thirteen years old had hung himself in his parents’ barn. These women huddled together crying and stammering prayers. “I don’t know what to do,” one said. Another added, “It’s so terrible. What could I possibly say?” The third one said quietly they must pray more. Then suddenly the third woman rose and began gathering things into a basket–a package of cookies, some paper plates, a bag of chips, just things she had on hand. “I don’t know what to say, but I’m going,” she said. “That mother has to know that we care. I’ll take her these things and–I’ll hug her.” She started out the door. The other two women looked at each other and then followed.

Entreat the Lord, ask for directions, then be bold enough to say, “I myself am going.” It could make the difference between life and death in relationships both earthly and heavenly.

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