I do a lot with the inter-library loan system both for myself and my homeschooling kids. It’s great! I can “shop” for books from my home and they come in from all over to my Bethel library two blocks away. Right when I read reviews online, I can ask for the book without even getting up or needing to remember. They call me when the books arrive and it is fun to pick them up to see which ones came through each time, like a little Christmas each week all year long. I’ve done this so much I petitioned the library to raise my limit from 15 to 30 requested at any time, and they were happy to grant that wish.
The pivotal part of this story is that there is one library, Greenwich, probably the best and wealthiest in the state, that doesn’t participate in this system. Often when I look up books, the Greenwich library is the only library that has some of the more obscure books I want, especially art books. For these I keep a list, as I get down to Greenwich (about an hour away) about three times a year delivering kids to unique homeschooling classes at the nice Bruce Museum there. While they are in class, I stock up at the Greenwich library with the books I can’t get elsewhere, since my library card is good anywhere in the state. You can also renew online, and then return books anywhere in the state, and they will deliver them back to where they belong with the return date retroactive to when you turned them in at whatever library was more convenient to you. This system has worked well.
So last fall, I checked out a slew of books from the Greenwich library and renewed them through Christmas break. (To read a review on this blog of one of those books (click here) and see the Greenwich library tag on the back!) Then I returned the whole pile to my library in Bethel. Later in January, the Greenwich library kept sending notices that one book titled Intuitive Light (click here to see it) was overdue. As I was pretty sure I had returned it, I waited a while for it to simply show up. But then as the overdue notices kept coming in February, I started turning my house upside down looking for it. Did it get put away with the Christmas books? Was it under a bed? You know that nagging, helpless feeling when you’ve looked everywhere multiple times. What else could I do but pray?
Prayer for me is a logical reasoning process stemming from a perfect God who cares for His creation. Coupled with that is a large, careful listening component, followed by a willing obedience to actually do what God is leading you to do. My prayer in this case started rather exasperatedly, “God, you know where that book is.” Truth be known, it was first stated more like an accusation, “Why haven’t You helped me find it yet?” But upon settling down to actually quietly pray about it, I really did know if God’s omniscience included knowing how many hairs were on my head, He really did know where that book was. He could tell me where it is, or move it out of whatever logjam it was in. I realized I could trust the God that put the planets in their orbits with this, and let the whole situation go.
I often receive “marching instructions” from God, go there, do this, call her, etc, and live so much in that place, that it wasn’t unusual that God told me something like this yet again. I made no connection between my latest directive and the aforementioned prayer, but received it and planned to be obedient, merely because I’ve been blessed a million times over by doing exactly that. It makes life like a treasure hunt, doing as you are told by God, only to find what was valuable in it later.
We go to church in yet another town called Ridgefield, and since last Sunday we had the memorial service there in the afternoon, it didn’t make sense to come home in between, so God told me to use the intervening time to go to the Ridgefield Library to get a particular book titled Painting Abstracts (click here to see it) that I knew was there. Through inter-library loan, I’d previously had this book when I didn’t have enough time to try out the exercises. Since it was from a library not so far away, I had made a mental note to stop by there sometime else to check it out again when I had more time. So the idea that came so adamantly and strongly to go and get this book there last Sunday seemed natural enough to me, and I was happy to oblige.
There I was at the Ridgefield library at the appointed moment, pulling the book Painting Abstracts off the shelf, when in a casual glance I caught sight of the spine of the Intuitive Light book. I knew no other library had this book since I’d been forced to get it from Greenwich, and I also think I was primed to see it since I had spent so much time hunting for it. As I pulled Intuitive Light off the shelf, I was stunned to see the Greenwich Library label on it! My lost book! Checked out from the Greenwich library and returned to the Bethel library, here it was witlessly sitting on the shelf of the Ridgefield library! And I was led by the nose to find it, regardless of the fact that it was in an impossibly obscure place.
My mystery was solved. I was astonished. What cannot God do?