As Christians, we know the importance of God’s Word in our life. But many times daily Bible reading becomes an item to be checked off our list, an afterthought, reserved only for times of panic, or forgotten. Betty’s Bible changed my view of my Bible reading time.
My dear friend Betty was in her eighties. She took ill, and within a few weeks she was home in the arms of Jesus. I attended her funeral.
In the front entrance of the church, there were beautiful white lilies streamed with gold ribbons, stamped with terms of endearment befitting my friend, Beloved Wife, Beloved Mother. Next to the standing flower arrangements was a table draped with white linen. On the table, were many photos of family love. Alongside the framed memories was a white guestbook with a gold feathered pen to record the last gathering in her honor. Placed at the far end of the table was a large portrait of my beautiful friend from days long ago. But what caught my eye was her Bible.
The tawny leather cover rested with faded wear. Its gilded edges dulled by years of frequent turning. The frayed burgundy ribbon marked a special place she must have wanted to remember. I ran my fingers over the cover. Tears brimmed. I had always admired my friend’s close walk with the Lord. My curiosity peaked. I slowly opened its pages. It was like opening the wardrobe door to Narnia.
My eyes were overwhelmed by the sight of highlighted passages, written notes in the margins, and stars highlighting moments between her and her Savior. I closed the book like a door I had mistakenly opened interrupting a private holy rendezvous. I longed to see more but felt I was intruding.
I filed into the church with friends and family. We celebrated her life. Testimony after testimony revealed a selfless woman. Her husband read a poem he wrote for her entitled, “My Valentine”. It was the poem he wrote years ago to celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary. Her adopted sons recalled cherished memories with their mother. Her retirement years were spent daily delivering meals to elderly shut-ins through Meals on Wheels. Weekly, she and her husband visited the sick in both medical and convalescent hospitals. They served in our church’s food and clothing giveaway every Saturday. And on Thursday mornings, she faithfully attended a Women’s Bible Study where she mentored me and other younger women. Through her example, she taught us to love the Lord, love our husband, and love our children. Throughout her life, she left love notes of grace to everyone she met. Pointing each one to the “Lover of Her Soul.”
As I left the church, Betty’s Bible once again caught my eye. I walked over to the table and with her testimony still nourishing my mind and soul. Once again, I ran my fingers over the cover and slowly opened it. This time, the beauty of every verse lifted from the pages and invited me to stay. I could hear the gentle whispers of my Savior pursuing my heart, “Come away with me.” My tears fell and stained Betty’s Bible. The invitation was to a deeper relationship, a deeper understanding, a deeper intimacy with my Lord through His Word and prayer. I answered softly, “Yes.”
“My beloved said to me, ‘Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers are springing up and the time of the singing of birds has come. Yes, spring is here. The leaves are coming out, and the grapevines are in blossom. How delicious they smell! Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.’ Song of Solomon 2:10-13
Many times, in the busyness of life, I can hear the quiet voice of the “Lover of my Soul” inviting me to, “come away” to a place where we can be alone. The beautiful memory of Betty’s Bible laced with sweet annotations, and messages awakens my deepest desire to fall in love all over again with my Savior. Instead of “I should”, “I’m suppose to” or any other guilt-ridden phrase, the memory of Betty’s Bible inspires me to respond to God’s whispered invitation with, “I’m coming.” And then….I retreat in private. I close my door and read His love letter to me once more. I write in the margins, I highlight the words and star the secret moments between my Savior and me. On the days when I neglect my time with the Lord, my soul hurts not because I failed to “do” my Bible reading, but because I missed precious alone moments with God. My Bible reading time has grown from duty to devotion thanks to the treasure my friend Betty left behind.
From Our Home to Yours,
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