Visiting my maternal grandmother and grandfather was an event I looked forward to as a child. Their two-room house was full of interesting things. The “front room” as they called it had a pot-belly coal burning stove and assorted chairs for sitting and talking. During the winter months the grandchildren would take turns bringing in the coal to warm the house. Two double-beds were situated at the other end of the “front room”. On a table nestled between the two beds, a starched doily cradled the family Bible. I was suspect that the big, elaborate Bible really belonged to my grandmother as it seemed her fingerprints were the ones that impacted the soft leather covering. I knew Mama Julie loved God; I could see it on her face.
In the “back room” I could hear the sound of the pressure cooker hissing as the garden peas cooked beside the iron skillet that made the best fried chicken I had ever eaten. The simple wood table had a bench the full length of the table; just enough for all the cousins to scoot up to. A homemade dessert always finished off the time of food and fellowship. There was no inside bathroom in this small rural home, so a trip down the path to the “out-house” although necessary was a little scary an intimidating.
My grandfather, affectionately called “Pa Scott” would often escape the noise of a full house and the heat of a hot kitchen to a make-shift pallet outside, underneath the kitchen area. He was certain that rubbing RC cola over his body would ease the arthritis pain that cause him to walk haltingly. The cousins were always concerned that someday we would go outside to see Pa Scott only to discover that the ants had toted him away because of the sticky RC cola coating he wore!
We didn’t have a family Bible at my house until my Mom purchased some cemetery plots from the local funeral home. Part of the selling point was the gift of an exceptionally large leather Bible with the embossed picture of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. I only had a small New Testament I had received from the Gideon ministry when I started first grade. The new family Bible was something I loved.
I remember sitting beside my Mother and reading to her the passages I had learned about in Sunday school. No one in my family attended church except me. In a real since the family Bible was only “my Bible.” I longed for a family who had a shared faith. I found so much reality and comfort in the words I read from the Word of God. I wanted my family to have that same truth and comfort.
When Larry and I married, I requested a new Bible with my new name on the outside cover. My new family was beginning, and I was determined to make the Word of God an integral part of our household. Through the years, our sons received age-appropriate Bibles and we shared a progressive, growing love for the Word of God. As adults, they still look to the Bible for wisdom and strength.
Today, when I share with young people who have lost their direction in life, I always go to a passage of scripture that gave meaning and direction to me. It is found in Psalms 119:9-11, “How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed, according to Your word. With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from your commandments! Your word have I hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” The quiet presence of a family Bible in a place of honor in the home is not something you see much of today. Neither do you see a lot of front room; back room houses with outside bathrooms! Times and lifestyles change. I’m not advocating a biblical shrine to the past, but I am focusing on the importance of both individual and family faith and guidance through the Word of God. The faith of a parent should be passed down to the next generation. A love for the Word of God, whether leather-bound or on a Droid or an iPhone with several translations, is a gift every parent should give to their children. Make enjoying the Word of God a family event! Love it, learn it, and then share it with others, especially your family.