A Footnote in His-Story
Published on October 1-2, 2011 in the Parish Bulletin of Saint Andrew Catholic Church, Harrodsburg KY
When I was growing up, my Aunt Victoria had a set of picture books that I loved to borrow. It was a series called “The Bible Story” and I remember being so fascinated by the stories of Noah’s ark, Moses and the exodus, David and Goliath, and Daniel in the lion’s den. Although I had not learned enough English at that time to read the narratives on my own, I enjoyed looking at the pictures. I am told that, after I had major surgery when I was six, I asked my aunt if she could lend me those books while I was the hospital. She was more than happy to fulfill my wish and I spent most of my recovery having my Dad read me those volumes. I remember being spellbound by the wonders that God had wrought in the lives of those people from the past. Something about the way that God got involved in the desperate circumstances of those who had been belittled for believing in Him, how He saved and vindicated them, struck a chord in my young heart. I could not hear enough of these stories and so I had my Dad retell them several times during the course of my hospital stay.
This first taste of the Bible stories later inspired me to spend a whole summer reading the Bible from cover to cover. By that time I had learned enough English to read the Good Book on my own but it was still a daunting task for a ten year old: it was a book with no pictures; it was written in an archaic form of English (I was reading my mother’s King James version, a Bible that she had won in a quiz bee when she was in high school); and it had way too much material that required parental guidance. There was something else in this book that I had never found in any other picture book or on any of the shows that I had watched on TV: it was the unmistakable omnipresence of God. God was the recurring character in every story, the One who never failed to be there from the first generation to the last. He was the one constant figure in a long and very erratic history, the faithful one in many a faithless company.
I was struck by the fact that the old heroes of my favorite stories—Noah, Moses, David, and Daniel—were actually minor characters compared to this God. There was no mistaking it: God was the hero in every story, the cause of each success, the root of every redemption. History was His story. And my old heroes could only claim prominence in brief episodes of this lengthy series of His salvation. Their tales were but chapters in this larger chronicle of God.
Now that I am an adult, I realize that, if those great stories were but chapters of this larger chronicle, then my own is but a footnote, just a quick camera shot in this world’s longest running series. Yet, somehow this God who remains the central character in all of history still finds it worthwhile to be involved in my footnote of a life. No Noah or Moses am I, no David or Daniel; yet, in my own days of despair God has been there by my side.
The world still belittles those who believe in Him, just as it mocked Noah and Moses, just as it scorned David and Daniel. But their stories and the long history of our salvation, even my own footnote of a life, bear witness to this unmistakable truth: none is too small or too great that God would not be mindful of him (cf. Ps. 8:4), none would be too remote to be touched by His grace.