HOOKED BY THE BOOK
I’m a slow reader. My analytical nature comes out as I cannot skip a word for fear of missing the complete thought. I also find myself evaluating the grammar, sentence structure, and punctuation as I read. I can’t help it. My mother, on the other hand, can knock out a 600-page book in nothing flat! I like to read; I’ve just never had the luxury of time to be an avid reader. I felt guilty because writers are supposed to be avid readers. Does it count that I’ve always wanted to be? Between my job, church, mission trips, family, household responsibilities, extended family needs, mentoring, daily commutes in heavy traffic, attempts at fitness, choir rehearsals, piano/organ practicing, dog walking, organizational meetings, and writing, I had trouble finding the hours to sleep, much less read. Heck, I was proud to brush my teeth twice a day! Every once in awhile, I got a chance to read and even finish a book but that was usually on a lengthy trip. Even then, I had to first catch up with mail, newspapers, and magazines.
I was forced to put leisure reading on my retirement “to do” list. I looked forward to finally being able to open the pages of books I had collected over the years. Well, guess what? Since retiring, not only have I been reading books from my long-awaiting bookshelves, but I joined a Book Club! Me. In a Book Club. I never . . . Even better, it’s mostly church friends. I totally love it. We don’t sit around sipping wine and gossiping (at least not for long) as some book clubs do. We actually talk about the books we’ve read. And no, we don’t just read “churchy” books. In fact, I may be the only one that does. We read a variety of books – novels, westerns, war history, political themes, biographies, fiction, spiritual, theological, even picture books, and National Geographic magazines.
I get excited about figuring out which book I want to read next. My bookcases hold so many delicious non-fiction books from which to choose. I enjoy how we go around the circle and give a brief report. Some things I have learned or discovered in my reading is that the editor of Guidepost magazine has a dark history of drinking (The Promise of Hope by Edward Grinnon); there is a scientific explanation that meets the Creator in Who Made the Moon? by Sigmund Brouwer; homosexuality can be overcome although the tendencies may never go away (Gay Girl, Good God by Jackie Hill Perry). Every woman can relate in some way to Lisa Terkeurst’s It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way, Jan Silvious’s Courage for the Unknown Season, and Cassandra Woods’s Rise Up – Keys to Overcoming. I enjoyed enhancing my Easter season with Characters of the Crucifixion by Robert Wilkerson. A big surprise was On Fire for Christ – Stories of Anabaptist Martyrs by Dave and Neta Jackson. I thought the book would be about the spiritual “fire” in evangelists of the sixteenth century, but it was about individuals who were burned at stake for their Christian beliefs. How humbling to learn that most of these martyrs died for believing things like symbolic communion and adult baptism versus infant baptism. Bounty hunters were hired to find these “heathens.” All of the martyrs counted it a privilege to die for Christ. I was horrified but not depressed. The tongue screw, used to prevent witnessing, got to me. The book made me feel empowered in my faith with a pressing desire to live boldly for their courage. Called to Forgive by Anthony Thompson and Denise George also impacted my sensibilities as a Christian. We should abide by the biblical mandate to forgive even when it seems impossible. Rev. Thompson forgave his wife’s unremorseful murderer. Remember the racially-motivated church shootings in Charleston, South Carolina of nine African American church members attending a Bible study? Moral Dilemmas by J. Kerby Anderson and Charles Swindoll gave a biblical perspective on contemporary ethical issues and left me scratching my head on why society does some of the things they do. A gamut of difficult and controversial topics was covered.
I patted myself on the back when I decided to venture out of my non-fiction corner and open a 300-page fiction book (my rule of thumb is to stay under 200 pages) about mystery worshipers as compared to mystery shoppers. What a delightful read. Full of scripture mixed with a twist of odd humor by one of Alabama’s great journalists, authors, and photographers, William Thornton. Although the book Set your fields on fire was longer than I normally read, it went faster since it kept me engaged with its bizarre nuances. I knew the author since I had met him at a book signing event and lightheartedly chided that his book table needed more decoration. At our next joint event, I bought him a beautiful cross for his table; and we’ve been friends ever since.
What a joy it is to have good books to read for education, mental relaxation, inspiration, humor, and so much more. While there are countless books from countless authors, good and not-so-good, there is always one book we can read that will enlighten, enhance, enrich, energize, and encourage us to grow and live in a way that is pleasing to God. That book is the Bible, the best-selling book of all time in the world. The book that takes us from the beginning of creation to the end of mankind. We learn about prophets, priests, judges, kings, harlots, beggars, disciples, the common man, and more. We recognize ourselves through emotions, sinful deeds, deceitful acts, and doubts. We are taught how to be servants, stewards, and messengers as we study the life of Jesus Christ on earth. The Bible has many authors with different flavors of writing styles. The Good News in its pages offers hope and salvation for anyone who will believe.
Have you ever taken the time to read this book in its entirety? I know it’s a lot pages – way more than 300! But why don’t you consider doing so? No reason to hurry. Nobody is tracking you. Take time to absorb its content, to contemplate its significance and guidance, and to soak in its love-filled bath. I guarantee you – this one is worth every word.
“Your laws are wonderful. No wonder I obey them! The teaching of your word gives light, so even the simple can understand. I pant with expectation, longing for your commands” (Psalm 119:129-131).