From the earliest of my memories, books have been a fascination to me. It first puzzled me how adults could sit for hours reading a book without pictures. How could anyone enjoy something that didn’t have pictures? I mean, in my four or five year old mind, pictures told the entire story.
My grandmother would read to me quite often. Storybooks. Faerie tales. Books about Spot the dog and Harriet the goat, or something along those lines. Thin books full of pictures I loved to look at. Puppies, farm animals, kittens…books about animals were my favorite then.
Like all children, I started school and began to learn to read the words that went with the pictures in my books. I learned a lot of words simply because I knew the stories by heart by then and I could put them both together. I’m not sure how long at a time I would read, but the time was increasing. Reading out loud was one of my favorite things to do.
One night, and I remember it clearly, my grandmother was reading her book silently to herself, but I was reading my book out loud, and it annoyed her. She told me I was a big girl and I no longer had to read the words out loud, I could say them to myself. This felt pretty odd at first, but I soon got the hang of it. Grandma was a lot happier then and we could sit side by side for hours reading silently to ourselves.
I think I was about 12 when Grandma gave me my first Bible. It was white, with gold lettering on the front. I thought it was the most beautiful book I had ever seen and I dived right in reading it. It was King James Version, so it wasn’t always the easiest to understand, but it seemed to have a poetry about it. The words were beautiful even before I started paying attention to the meaning. That Bible was the first of several over the years. It’s the one that started it all.
When I was 13, my mother and I attended a little country church, nestled in the woods, for a little while. It was during our Sunday School lessons at Joppa Methodist Church that I became aware that there were other versions of the Bible, versions I could understand better. Who knew?
For Christmas when I was about 15, I asked my mother for a Bible called The Way, The Living Bible. Amazingly enough, she got it for me. I loved it! It opened up a whole new world for me. The words in the Bible took on more meaning. My mind was reaching more understanding of God’s Word. How could anyone not read the Bible? It was a fantastic book, full of hope, war, hate, faith, and love. There was sex, scandals, miracles, and sadness. It had everything any bestseller on the market had, and a whole lot more.
As happens with many young people, I began drifting away some from reading the Bible. There was the dating thing, the marriage thing, the working and going to college thing. I worked most Sundays, or at least tried to, for the extra pay. In my mind, I was way too busy to go to church. But during those years, I kept my Bibles on the floor under my side of the bed. When my husband was out of town during the week, I would read a little, at least a few verses. There was just something about reading God’s Word that made me feel better. It got me through some pretty rough times by giving me hope. And it was through those words in those Bibles that made me want to pray, and I prayed a lot. I felt like God and I were getting to know each other a little better.
Fast forward a few decades and I have collected several Bibles. I like exploring different versions. Some I can read like a novel, some take more time, like the King James Version. Sometimes, I’m just in the mood for one version or the other. Do I read my Bibles as often as I should? No. And I’m not proud of that. But to this day, it is still my favorite book of all time. It’s the one book that can give me hope, comfort my grief, celebrate my happiness, and make me believe in miracles. It was that first white Bible my grandmother gave me that put me on the path to become a Christian later in life. It helped plant a seed.
If you don’t have a Bible, I urge you to get one. If you cannot afford one, stop in a church and ask them for one. They will gladly give you a Bible of your own. If you live in my neck of the woods, stop in at Rockland Church and I will make sure you have a Bible. It’s an amazing story you don’t want to miss.