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Preserved – A Purpose 27 Years in the Making

27 years ago, I had what I thought was the perfect job when I worked for an African American bookstore in San Antonio.   Not only did I get to satisfy my love of reading but I also got to satisfy my love of all things African American.   We sold books but we also sold art, clothes, and jewelry and I LOVED being able to get all of my favorite things at a discount.    Even though the store struggled with up and down sales in its new, larger location, we thought it would stay open forever.    So, the community was shocked when the owner announced that she was shutting the store down and moving back to her hometown in east Texas.

Shewanda Riley

I was also disappointed because I’d just started working there and was using the employee discount to buy at least one new book every time I got paid.   However, with the store going out of business, all the books were now on sale which meant I could buy as many as I wanted… which I did.   I bought some because they were classics and I’d always wanted them in my personal library.   Others I bought because they had interesting titles and I figured I’d get around to reading them eventually.

Fast forward 27 years and many of those books that I bought I still have not read.   But as I began doing research for my doctorate late last year, I was surprised by how many of the books that I’d bought at the bookstore kept coming up on the lists of key authors for my research area.  In fact, there were at least 5 authors and books that I needed for my research that I didn’t need to buy because I’d bought them years ago at the African American bookstore.

I was happy that I didn’t have to spend that money (at least $75) but I was also amazed at God’s timing.    How awesome is that God knew 27 years ago exactly what I would need for my research now…and gave me exactly what I needed before I knew I needed it!     There are a number of scriptures that discuss God and time. However, looking at Ecclesiastes 3:11 reminds us “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”     Isaiah 46:10 also says that God knows the end from the beginning.   Even though our finite minds have a hard time understanding the concept, God is not limited by time.

Even though it’s just a few books, I consider this a perfect example of God not being limited by time and able to be with us now as well as in the future.       He’s just waiting on us to catch up with him in the future by walking faithfully as we strive to fulfill our purpose.


Shewanda Riley is a Dallas, Texas based author of “Love Hangover: Moving from Pain to Purpose After a Relationship Ends” and “Writing to the Beat of God’s Heart: A Book of Prayers for Writers.”   Email her at preservedbypurpose@gmail.com or follow her on Twitter @shewanda.

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