One of the places my Bible reading plan took me was to this week was the book of First Chronicles. If a person who was generally familiar with the Bible was asked what part is the most tedious reading it is quite likely that the opening chapters of First Chronicles would be on top of the list.
First Chronicles begins with nine chapters that are basically lists of names. Name after name after name, literally hundreds of them. They are not at random, for they are arranged to show various family relationships, and very occasionally there is a tidbit of other information mixed in. But for the most part they are just names, and for a good many of them they are found nowhere else in the Bible.
I'll confess that I have never studied the early chapters of First Chronicles, and so I don’t have any kind of ready explanation for why the lists of names are there. If you are interested in what might be gained from them I happened upon this useful article just this week.
One thing I do know is that these names matter to God. I don’t believe that there are any extraneous words in the Bible. While there may be many things I don’t understand, I believe that the entirety of God's word matters to God.
Last week I wrote about the complexities of praying for certain parts of my family. I made mention of some lists of names that Robin and I pray through, although I didn't mention that those lists are memorized, and not written down. The names of Chronicles, and something that happened when I was running this week, reminded me of another list I pray through.
That list has the similarity with Chronicles of appearing to be simply a collection of single names. While the lists of Chronicles are connected together by family relationship, this particular list of mine is connected differently. It is people whom I know, or know of, in this community with substance abuse issues.
Many of the people on that list I've met, and some I see somewhat regularly. Others I see at random times. I may see them often for a while, and then not see them for a long while. And those times I see them often are as likely to be on one side of their struggle as the other.
So I was out running and I crossed paths with one of those persons for the first time in quite a while. He was walking in the opposite direction, I greeted him by name and wished him a good day. He said some words of greeting in return. And as I continued, I wondered how he has been doing. I got a clue close to noon, as I happened to cross paths with him again. No conversation besides "Hi," but he looked sober and that was good to see.
My list, like the lists in Chronicles, can appear to be somewhat anonymous, but I believe that each are lists of names of people whom matter to God. And so I'll continue to pray through my list, try to be helpful and encouraging when I cross paths with those people, and trust in God to bring forth a good result.