Friday, April 25, 2008

The Book

It has a very well-broken-in look to it. Not just well-used, but obviously well loved. The red leather cover is worn and faded, with small cracks beginning to show. The pages have obviously been handled and turned over many, many times, with only a hint of shine left to the gold which had gilded their edges when it was still new. The margins and fly-leafs, are covered with hand-written notes. Page after page is marked here and there; whole passages are underlined with blue and black ink. Particular words are circled, and there is no shortage of arrows pointing to the cross references and drawing attention to notes in the margins.

The book is almost 35 years old, presented as an award for ten years of service by the insurance company she worked for at the time. I imagine there would have been other gifts to choose from. A watch perhaps. Or a some other piece of jewellry. I'm glad she made this choice, though. What a treasure.

My sister Brenda, who lives in Kingston, sent it back to me this week, via our David, who was coming home at the start of his summer break from his second year at Queen's. I doubt he had any idea how precious was his cargo. I would work ten years of hard labour, for no other reward than for this book.

After Mom went home to be with the Lord over 20 years ago, Dad had passed her bible on to me. As much as it meant to me, we were raised to know that the best blessing comes from giving, and by the time the second Christmas without her had come upon us, I had wrapped it up in bright paper and gave it to my sister Brenda. Tears filled her eyes when she opened it. And tears filled my eyes this week when it came back to me.

Mom obviously loved this book, that is plain to see. How well I remember her dedication to getting up at 5:30 every morning to be able to spend time studying and praying before leaving for work. She was in her forties, and her three children were all young adults before she really began to understand and accept for herself the faith passed down to her from previous generations. Her faith grew by leaps and bounds, mainly, I believe, because of the value she placed on looking for God's living voice to speak to her through the pages of this book. Inside the flyleaf, amidst many, many others, are penned these words:

The Bible does not contain the Word of God. It IS the Word of God.
It is
supernatural in origin
eternal in duration
inexpressable in value
infinite in scope
regenerative in power
infallible in authority
universal in interest
personal in application
inspired in totality!
Read it through!
Write it down!
Pray it in!
Work it out!
Then pass it on!
(No doubt that is a quote from someone, whose name Mom didn't think to write down. My apologies to that writer, but I just couldn't resist sharing it here.)
I wonder if she knew, all those years ago, how close I would feel to her when I read it now, and how encouraged in my own walk with God. It's almost like we are fellowshiping together again, and perhaps, as she is now one of the cloud of witnesses that surrounds us, in a sense we are. I remember asking her near the end, even though I already knew the answer, if she had any regrets about the amount of time she had given to her relationship with God - praying and studying the Word. I can still hear the passionate "no" that escaped her lips even in her weakened state, and how she suddenly looked away into a space and time I could not share, as though I had reminded her of some secret exquisite joy that could not really be shared with anyone unless they experienced it themselves.
Thanks Mom - for everything. I feel so close to you when I read your bible, and your notes and the things you highlighted and underlined. Thank you for doing that. What a legacy!
And thanks Bren - for this great treasure. You truly are the best sister in the whole wide world.
And thank you Father God, for the gift of your Living Word, which reveals who you are to sincere, open, searching hearts.


Belinda said...

I have a bible with a worn red leather cover of my own (Aunt Agnes's) and how well I understand the treasure that yours is.

I'm so happy that your mom's bible has come back, and how she must love the unselfish giving spirit with which her daughters have cherished and shared it.

Brenda said...

Susan, I'm so glad it arrived safely. ....and that it is in your hands for safekeeping. I think it needs to stay with you now. Thanks for writing about it. It blessed me!
Much love,
your sister

Joyful Fox said...

What a legacy from your mom - that she read it, valued it and that you can draw strength from it even now. It is also a testimony to how she raised you that you selflessly have passed it back and forth between you.

Thanks for sharing something so special for us to enjoy as well.

Night Owl said...

How beautiful and blessed. :)
Thanks for sharing,
Night Owl

Dave Hingsburger said...

What a wonderful post. I've often wondered what will happen to my Bible. It is covered with notes and stories, underlining and double lining. Sometimes I look over the thoughts I wrote in the margin and thereby visit the man I was - when. It's such a personal thing. When we did up our wills I just couldn't decide where it should go. I'm hoping God with tell me when the time comes.