"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." Proverbs 9:10
The most dangerous place in the world is between me and a book store. I've earned the reputation. My wife knows that a second hand book store is a place where she can leave me and know I will be there when she gets back. I don't know if I love books or I love the smell of books.
Today when I enter a Barnes & Noble it takes me back to my childhood as a small boy growing up in Dallas. My parents introduced me to the wonderful world of books at one of the old Carnegie libraries. It was a beautiful building located in one of the village shopping centers in a well manicured neighborhood of the city. They did this for two reasons. They wanted me to develop an appreciation for life-long learning, and it allowed me a chance to cool down from the summer heat in an air conditioned building. I was intrigued by the place. There was a distinct smell from the stacks of books carried on row after row of shelves. It was so quiet. It was restful, and did I mention it was cool? It was an oasis on a summer afternoon when the temperatures soared into the hundreds, and our parsonage was so hot that time stood still. There was only one intimidating presence in the place; the no nonsense librarian seated at the front desk. She held court over the library with an odd mixture of hospitality and hostility. She was more than willing to let me in, but I was on a short leash. This lady was not going to put up with any foolishness from me or anyone else. If I could prove to her that I was there for the right reason, I was offered the run of the place. If I did not listen to her warnings to maintain silence and decorum, I would be banned from the building. Did I mention the heat? She ran a tight ship, and I was proud to be on board. I couldn't believe it when this lady offered and than issued me a card that allowed me to walk out with whatever I wanted to take home to read. It was a great deal. I could keep them until I finished reading them, and then I could return the books to her and get some more.
I don't think any degree I have ever earned has given me the satisfaction of my first library card. I am pretty sure that I have rarely been motivated to please someone more than my first librarian. When I brought my stack of books to her, she would open them and stamp the date for their return, and then comment on my choice of reading material. She would say a word to me about each book as she closed it and handed it to me. She noticed I was interested in history and biographies. She would commission me to keep reading in that area because I could learn how to live today from those who lived in the past. I remember feeling smarter just because I was told I was on the right track by someone who knew more than I did. The way you come on is the way you go on.
The Chinese have been attributed with the proverbial statement, a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. The message of Proverbs 9 points us to the starting blocks for the beginning of the race of our lives. Everything of significance is rooted in a firm respect and honored reverence for the counsel of God. To know Him is to obey Him. To come into His presence and ignore what He has to say would be foolishness. To listen to His wisdom is to discover more about His character; to understand who He is. This is the result of years of hearing the right counsel and moving in the right direction. God's Word is filled with all we need to know about Him and the life that He has offered us through Jesus Christ. In the short 66 books of the Bible is a library of wisdom. The Holy Spirit sits as a librarian offering to help a genuine student of the word know and understand more about who God is and what He can do through them. It would be foolish indeed to ignore the opportunity to come in from the heat of the world and sit down for refreshing encounter with God in His word.
There was a day when the best thing that could be said about a man was, "He is a God-fearing man." Today the goal of too many men is to hear, "He is such a nice guy." God save us from nice guys who finish last, and give us a new generation of men who will set their feet firmly in the starting blocks, and begin their race with a fear of God. Runners take their mark! Get set! Go!