What’s in a Quote … You ask?

“Come to me … I will give you rest” (Mt.11:28). How? “Ask … Seek …Knock at the door (Mt 7:7).

Oct 16, 2021

Lucille Dass

By Lucille Dass

Life itself is a quotation. ~ Jorge Luis Borges

In my first column I introduced an idiosyncratic part of myself. Author and teacher Ralph Keyes says there’s a word for people like me – “quotographer” – a quote collector. Aside from being a quotographer, I’m also a small-time “quote-smith,” having self-published two compilations of motivational quotes (one with accompanying reflections), even if the local market for home-grown inspirational sayings may be lukewarm compared to those crafted by gurus from afar. Nathanael too asked, “Can any good thing come from Nazareth?” (Read, Penang). Then, Philip-like, I rallied support, “Come and see,” and felt somewhat fulfilled.

Similarly, if you drop by this column, pick up a nugget or two and see where it takes me and you…then feel free to quote your yay or nay for further reading. That said, none of us will say nay to this, “The Bible is a book of holy aphorisms” – a succinct 19th century quote by James Lendall Basford, found in Sparks for the Philosopher’s Stone, 1882. We know, Hebrews chapter 1 asserts that God always spoke, and continues to speak, in wide-ranging ways, and we “must pay greater attention to what we have heard so that we do not drift away from it” (Heb 2:1), but keep it “alive and active” in our lives.

As a Christian, I read Borges’ quote (above) in two ways – our life’s sojourn in words and deeds and its estimate in God’s eyes. Has my time been well spent gathering “… eternal weight of glory beyond all measure” (2 Cor 4:16-18)? What is God’s ultimate estimate of its value on His weighing scale (Job 31:27)? Daunting, but insight is needed to qualify for a better bid from God ahead of our time! How? Dive into His Basic Instructional Book for Living Everyday (BIBLE). This wisdom laden heavyweight’s worth is a grace-filled life. It will steer us to estimate our own worth and, where found wanting (cf. Dan 5:27), add valued weight to our daily living.

Quotes are pithy sayings that inspire, educate, advise and guide us because they come embedded with gems of wisdom gathered from life experiences. Listen to Earnest Calkins, who says, “There is no material with which human beings work which has so much potential energy as words.” For us, that life-giving energy is found in the Word of God. So, finding myself in the grips of mental and physical lethargy …

I opened the Bible the other day
To read a Book within
Since it was the season
I found one ripe for the picking
Knowingly, it afforded me quotables
To make sustainable
A life otherwise made untenable
Among His calls, He bids us all …

“Come to me … I will give you rest” (Mt.11:28). How? “Ask … Seek …Knock at the door (Mt 7:7). So I did as ought but soon sought to ease my anxiety for what’s next when He stopped me short, “Do not worry about tomorrow … Today’s trouble is enough for today” (Mt 6:34). (This reminded me of the “only for today” spiritual goals in The daily Decalogue of Pope John XX111.) Now reflect ... How down-to-earth is that? Jesus knows what we go through because He’s been through it all. That’s why He has left us a plenitude of bite-sized wisdom sparks for life application, before bodily taking leave of earth for His heavenly abode to be present to all in all. We continue to live “Through Him, with Him and in Him” because of the promise of His everlasting presence, “I am with you always until the end of time” (Mt 28:20). A lifelong reassuring quote.

We can never fathom the profundity of God. Even if we take a deep dive into Exodus 34:6-7 for a listing of His attributes that come repeated throughout the OT and NT (Hebrews chp 1), we simply feel overwhelmed. He is a Wonder, and He works wonders. Incidentally, the instrumental “His name is wonderful” that gives Him classical praise, is haunting and delightful to the ears … when we let it transport us to the wonderland of His words and works. Then, jointly with repentant Israel, we profess our faith in His “mighty power” as we publicly confess, “Both we and our ancestors … did not consider your wonderful works … your steadfast love” (Ps 106:6-7).

Among the many repeated reminders in the Scriptures that God is knowable through His love is one from Jesus Himself in John 17:26. To know God’s love for us through His massive creation and divine revelation – in words and deeds – is an act of faith on our part. Because we believe, we desire to unravel the sayings and acts of Jesus to better understand the context. Since pain means gain, we will be duly rewarded with a revelation that enables understanding of what we believe. Another quote comes to mind, “Believe in order to understand and understand in order to believe” (St Augustine).

We learn that this is called, “Faith seeking understanding” translated from the Latin, Fides quaerens intellectum. We live in turbulent times. Unimagined intrusions are taking a toll on our well-being. A friend was troubled, “How to pray with all this happening? How to find peace of mind?” As we know, peace is not out there waiting to happen; it lies within for us to awaken and make it happen in us. I have found there is a difference between reacting and responding. Responding requires reflection and God’s mediation. So I simply read out to her a quote I had composed twenty years ago:

When in trouble do not despair.
With a sincere heart
turn to God…
and share
and rest assured
of his compassionate care.

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