By Daniel Schantz
MONDAY—My favorite seed catalog arrived today and I am astounded at the offerings. Things like cucumbers with big spikes on them, red noodle beans as long as my arm, speckled trout lettuce, watermelons with stars on them, and Asian snake melons 4 feet long. There are coal-black tomatoes, mother-of-pearl poppies, and a plant called Job’s tears that produces beads, which you can string into a necklace.
I can almost hear God laughing out loud as he made these wacky plants. And I want to stand up and cheer. “Way to go, God! Cool cucumbers!”
“O Lord, how many are Your works! In wisdom you have made them all; The earth is full of Your possessions” (Psalm 104:24*).
TUESDAY—It’s early morning, and a fellow professor is passing by my office door on his way to his classroom. He is a strong man, but he has been at this job for more than 50 years. This job is exhausting, even for young men.
“How long are you going to keep teaching?” I inquire.
He smiles, “As long as I still have something to offer, I guess.”
He still has a lot to offer, and offer is the key word. Teaching is a sacrifice, an offering. Just the preparations alone can wear you out. Giving several lectures a day takes its toll, and only those who have done it can fully understand what it’s like.
The professor’s podium is his altar. His body is the sacrifice.
“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice . . . which is your spiritual service of worship” (Romans 12:1).
WEDNESDAY—The phone is ringing, and I reach for it.
“Daddy? It’s me, Natalie.” She sounds happy, and I’m relieved. What with homeschooling, editing, entertaining, and housekeeping, she is a hummingbird on steroids. Lately she has been a hostage of the blues, brought on by one too many birthdays and the realization that her little Hannah is now taller than she is.
“Could you do me a favor, Daddy? Could you make me a wooden sign for my kitchen with a favorite Psalm on it, to celebrate my escape from the doldrums?”
I select an old slab of pine, about the size of a hymnbook. With a file, I round off the edges, giving it a soft, pillowy appearance. Carefully I press the letters of the text on to it, then seal the whole thing with a couple coats of varnish. As I work, I ponder this mysterious book we call the Bible, with its power to transform personality and improve moods. What would our lives be like without its light?
I hold up the plaque to read the words that have ministered to my little girl: “When the Lord brought back the captive ones of Zion, We were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter” (Psalm 126:1, 2).
THURSDAY—The moment the words left my mouth I knew I was in trouble. I was just teasing a favorite student before class started, but I went too far. My students glared at me. The boy winced, and my face grew red with regret.
Gaffs like these are inevitable for those of us who make our living with words, but the guilt is no less real. “I’m sorry,” I said, as he was leaving class. “You know I didn’t mean to hurt you, I was only teasing.”
He shrugged. “I know. Don’t worry about it.” He shuffled out the door.
But I DID worry about it, and at midnight I was still not asleep. I rolled out of bed, dressed, and slipped out the back door into the warm night air. The stars seemed farther away than I remembered them, as if even they were ashamed of me.
“I’m sorry, God, I didn’t mean to wound anyone today.”
There is no answer from the heavens, only the distant bark of a dog, scolding me.
Back in bed, I scour my Bible for some consolation, which I find in the Psalms. “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him” (Psalm 103:11).
FRIDAY—I reach for the phone and dial home. “Hon, don’t expect me home before 5:30. We have a big faculty meeting, and it could be a doozy.”
And it was. Coming at the end of a hard week, it was as tense as a war room. Tired faculty argued over technicalities. The agenda seemed to grow instead of shrink. The clock seemed to be broken
When at last I trudged through my back door, I caught the aroma of my favorite spaghetti, served with a loaf of peasant bread and a Coke on ice.
When I sat down to this feast, my fatigue melted like magic. After supper, I unloaded my woes to my wife, Sharon; then we watched and old episode of M*A*S*H. After a hot bath, I crawled between fresh, clean sheets and soon fell asleep.
Without my wife’s ministry to me, my ministry to students would be impossible. The fragrances that rise from her kitchen range are like incense unto God. They are “spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God” (1 Peter 2:5).
SATURDAY—The end of winter is the beginning of rummage sales. I roll down the windows of my little red truck and head out across town. The perfume of spring washes across my face, as I race around Moberly, looking for bargains: old books, used tools, and dollar boxes of junk that might contain a diamond or two—you never know.
I slide a CD into my dashboard—contemporary arrangements of the old hymns, the best of both worlds. Soon I am humming my favorite lines:
“He hideth my soul . . . where rivers of pleasure I see.”
“God will take care of you. Through days of toil when heart doth fail.”
“Temptations lose their pow’r when Thou art nigh.”
“Some golden daybreak, Jesus will come . . . schooldays all done.”
I couldn’t get through a single day without good music. I bless the writers and artists who make every day a church service.
“You surround me with songs of deliverance” (Psalm 32:7).
SUNDAY—Church is crowded this morning, and I’m glad to see I am not alone in my faith. Everywhere are people with problems, just like me.
A young divorcee and her daughter are holding hands, singing, “We love you Lord . . . ” and I am glad to see that she is no longer bitter.
A big truck driver tugs at his necktie, looking miserable. I tug at mine.
An old woman, who can no longer stand up, sits in silent submission to God. I join her—my feet are killing me.
As we pass the emblems of suffering, I rejoice that now they are emblems of joy and freedom. This is the best meal of the week, a true happy meal.
The sermon seems to have been written just for me, and I suspect my wife of giving the preacher a list of my secret sins. I wish he would hurry and get to the part about grace.
It’s all over in less than an hour, and it’s just a small portion of the adoration that arises from our hearts, seven days a week.
• Scripture quotations are from New American Standard Bible.
Daniel Schantz is professor of Christian education at Central Christian College of the Bible in Moberly, Missouri.