As the prophet Elisha traveled about Israel, he occasionally visited the town of Shunem, which may have been in the general region of Nazareth. A well-to-do woman was there, who always prepared a meal for him. One day she said to her husband, “I know that this man who often comes our way is a holy man of God. Let’s make a small room for him on the roof and put in it a bed and a table, a chair and a lamp for him. Then he can stay there whenever he comes to us” (2 Kings 4:9-10). They did so and were blessed immeasurably for the effort.
Notice how she furnished the room:
- A bed for sleeping
- A chair for sitting
- A table for studying
- A lamp for reading
She knew everyone needs a desk. I’m a fanatic about desks. I have three in my home, and Katrina has one too. My primary work — studying, writing, and lecture/sermon preparation — is done in the basement at a desk with two large computer monitors, a printer, and lots of books. It’s mounted to the wall under the window, and I spend a lot of time there.
I also have a rolltop desk where I keep financial records.
But my favorite desk is on the upper floor in a little alcove, in a dormer, of the spare bedroom.
When I was ten or so, my parents told me they had something special for my birthday. It was in my bedroom, they said; but the door was locked and I wasn’t allowed to enter until after the birthday cake. As you might expect, I was a bundle of curiosity. But my Uncle Tom Morgan let the cat of the bag. As I ran through the den, he stopped me and asked, “How do you like your desk?”
Uncle Tom was a master craftsman, and my parents had commissioned him to make a walnut desk for me. They were schoolteachers. They never suggested I try out for sports, but they really wanted me to read and study. So they asked Uncle Tom to make a desk for my birthday.
My Aunt Margaret (on the other side of the family) was appalled to learn my parents gave their child a desk for his birthday, and she went out and bought me a stuffed monkey named Zip (which I slept with every night for a full year and which I also have).
Now, over a half-century later, this desk is perhaps my most precious possession. This is where I start and close each day when I’m home. This is where I meet with the Lord after arising and before retiring. This is where I come to think, and this is where I come when I’m too worried to think.
The window at the end of the alcove looks down on Pennington Bend, and the windowsill is a makeshift bookshelf for my tried and true Bible translations, commentaries, hymnals, and a handful of the books I’m currently reading.
Some years ago, I asked my artist friend, Ken Simmelink, to render Roan Mountain in oil, and that painting hangs over my desk. The drawers are filled with legal pads, pens, pencils, and notecards—not much else. Atop the desk is a picture of Katrina and a lamp. Not much else. Not much else is needed. An open Bible. An open journal. A hymn. A prayer list. A legal pad for thinking. Sometimes a laptop for writing thoughts like these – this is where I’m working now. A heater at my feet in the winter.
Tonight in this empty house — Katrina is in the hospital and I’m a bit emotional — I am thankful for the comfort of sacred spaces. I love this old desk, and those who gave it to me. It helps keep my nerves together when I’m coming unraveled. It’s where I have my best thoughts. It’s where I meet the Lord.
Everyone needs a desk.