Yesterday morning I read from Oswald Chamber's Utmost for his Highest and some underlining caught my attention. I've had this book for years, since my children were little, and have periodically cycled it in and out of my morning devotional reading. It's not a book I typically underline in – maybe because most of its lines are underline worthy and the whole volume would be a mass of ink – but there are the occasional stretches of blue or black ink under text or squiggles in the margins.
Here is what I found underlined in the reading for yesterday, June 8:
"It is a great deal better to fulfil the purpose of God in your life by discerning His will than to perform great acts of self-sacrifice.... Beware of harking back to what you were once when God wants you to be something you have never been."
I remember those words well but don't remember the time of underlining. I find myself wondering about who I was when I underlined that: what age; what decisions were face me; what soul chord those words touched.
Underlinings and margin notes we once make are like messages through time from a younger self to an older self. Reminders of thoughts that sparked imagination and growth. Flags to pay attention. Witnesses to past difficulties made easier by the encouragement of words. Markers of the journey.
This could be an interesting exercise. Pick from your bookshelf a devotional book or any book that's been especially meaningful to you and thumb through it until you find a note or underlining you made years ago. Try and remember when you made the marking, who you were then, and why those words were significant. Think about what message the words may be sending you today.
[Photo: taken of a clump of birch trees on my in-law's lawn; I love birch trees.]