I collect old quotations. Wise words left by sages.
Why do I gather up words written decades or even centuries ago – like fragments of bread and fish in a basket? Because sometimes they confirm my own thoughts, sometimes they shake my thinking, sometimes they stir my heart, sometimes they challenge my fears, sometimes they shout my joy.
The wise ones who have gone before me remind me that yes – life IS hard but God is here. Their words across the ages testify to the fact that God is here and now for me as He was for them then. That – really – nothing has changed because God has not changed.
These wise ones couldn’t have imagined that the words they jotted down with pen (or quill!) or tapped out on typewriters would be read many years later through shiny, smooth glass on hand-held tools – in homes, cars, hospitals, airplanes, offices, trains – by people journeying along through turmoils and delights. Wondering about the ways of God. Pondering the path of life.
My criteria in weighing the helpfulness of a quotation:
- does it ring truth?
- does it spark life?
- but mainly: does it underscore (perhaps unwittingly!) a biblical truth? Can I point to something in the Bible that affirms it?
The fact that their writings still exist and are discoverable by moderns is simply a mercy of God. The sages didn’t know that they were writing into the future – that they were writing to me. The writer did not know that his/her pen was an arrow – to point me to the heart of God. They are not inspired authors – but they inspire me to know the Author. They didn’t know that they were fulfilling Isaiah 30:8 – “And now, go, write it before them on a tablet and inscribe it in a book, that it may be for the time to come as a witness forever.”
From their tablets to ours! So much wisdom and encouragement.
I’m grateful to God for the sages who labored to think and write in ways that help us now.
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I plan to post some of my favorite quotes as printables – just in case you’d like to collect some Sage Sayings. You may print them out and post them on a clipboard, or slap them into your journal, or stick them in a card, or frame them to display.
Here’s the first one. I promise they won’t always be this long – but this was too good to shorten! May your Day-star arise.
“A Christian may for many days together see neither sun nor star, neither light in God’s countenance, nor light in his own heart, though even at that time God darts some beams through those clouds upon the soul; the soul again by a spirit of faith sees some light through those thickest clouds, enough to keep it from utter despair, though not to settle it in peace. In the dark condition, if they do as St. Paul and his company did, cast an anchor even in the dark night of temptation, and pray still for day, God will appear, and all shall clear up, we shall see light without and right within; the day-star will arise in our hearts.”
~ Richard Sibbes (1809)
original source: Richard Sibbes, The Works of the Reverend Richard Sibbes, D. D. (Aberdeen: J. Chalmers & Co., 1809.) 318.
Here’s a link for your printable Sage Saying: Sage – Sibbes