One story my mom told of her childhood sticks out in my mind today, but is a bit fuzzy around the edges — how I wish I had paid closer attention and written down the details while I had the chance.
Mom told of an aunt and uncle who owned a restaurant. When mom would visit, this auntie would let mom explore the former bookstore on the other side of the building she owned. When her aunt unlocked that door, mom had personal access to all of the books that were still nestled on each shelf of that now abandoned bookstore. A whole new world opened up to her as she fingered the pages of each book that she read. It is no wonder that mom carried the love of reading with her throughout life, until Alzheimer’s would overshadow her ability to read in her last year of life.
In 1964, a new branch of the Milwaukee public library opened up on Capitol Drive, in a neighborhood very familiar to my parents. Just a handful of years earlier, I had been born in the Capitol Drive hospital (where mom was a nurse) just a few miles east down the road, and my parents had lived in the house just behind that hospital for the first years of my life. Looking back, it’s no wonder my mom would be one of this library’s early patrons, or that some of my earliest memories are of her helping me choose books from its shelves. What a wonderful feeling it was when, a few years down the road, I received my very own library card, giving me my very own access to countless adventures in books, plus the resources I would need for school research down the road a few years.
Yours truly in kindergarten, the year my adventure in reading would begin. Note: mom was much better at helping me choose books to read than she was at cutting my hair.
Fast forward to 1969 when another library opened up to me. This library of just 66 books was contained within one greater volume. Yes, the Bible. It was during the 12th year of my life when I, by faith, met the Author of this book. In the very moment that I placed my trust in Christ, His Spirit came to dwell within me, unlocking and giving me full access to the truths within the pages of my Bible.
I learned a verse during that year which helped me understand the importance of this Book of all books in my new life as a believer and why it continues to speak to my heart and change me from within each and every time I spend time within its pages.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
I hope it’s no secret that I am a Christian who truly desires to live every aspect of my life in such a way that Christ is honored and glorified. When you read what I write, I genuinely hope you see the Word of God is the hub around which the wheel of my life revolves.
Most who know me personally consider me to be a mature believer, but I know there is much room for growth. If I am honest with myself, there are days when I fall very short in my goal of making the Bible central in my life. For this reason, I have accepted a challenge to become part of the Word Before World Bible study challenge – a group of believers seeking to make time in the Scriptures a first thing in the morning priority. Before all the things which will capture our attention during the rest of the day that follows. Before we pick up our cell phone or log onto our computers, or turn on our televisions. Time in the Word before we pick up that interesting novel, or check to see what’s going on in Facebook or Instagram world.
First in my heart.
Our little Word Before World group is now 12 days into the challenge. It’s a virtual group – perfect for this day when social distancing is recommended. While we may never actually meet one another on this side of heaven, it has been delightful getting to know other women who struggle just like I do, yet have the same heartfelt longing and desire. We have been praying for one another, sharing insights we have gleaned from our time in the Word, sharing verses and encouraging one another.
So, here’s how my day 12 went.
It is my custom to listen to the scripture while I’m getting ready for my day – sometimes before my feet even hit the floor. Yes, it involves picking up my cell phone, but I rather like hearing the Scripture spoken out loud (by a wonderful narrator) on my Bible app. Today I decided to listen to the suggested reading while I took a morning walk. I began with Psalm 103 and ended up listening to the entirety of Psalm 119 (176 verses!).
Along the way on my personal “psalm-walk,” I stopped to enjoy God’s magnificent creation in the gardens of a few of the neighbors along my route. There were several beautiful gardens, but I think this mailbox garden was particularly impressive.
When my route finally returned me to my own driveway, I grabbed a cup of coffee, headed to my favorite Bible study spot and opened my Bible to Colossians (which I am currently studying). It’s a little book, just four chapters, yet so very challenging to me – particularly as it relates to my responsibility to pray for other believers and encourage them in their walk with Christ. Next, I flipped back to Psalm 103 to read the passage our group was challenged to read together. As I spent time reading and contemplating this psalm, verses 17 and 18 made me stop and thank the Lord for his steadfast love – and that His love and righteousness has been extended to my own children and each one of my grandchildren too.
But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.
Psalm 103:17-18 (ESV)
I couldn’t help but pull out my coloring pencils. and write the names of my grandkids in the margin as I prayed for each one.
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name!