Words to Build a Life On

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When I was a young girl just learning to read, my primary storybook was the Hurlbut’s Story of the Bible for Young and Old.  Originally published in 1904 it was the complete Bible story including the Old Testament and the New Testament.  Unlike most of today’s Bible Storybooks for children, this book was a continuous narrative of the Scriptures told in one hundred sixty-eight stories.  I loved reading about the Old Testament characters – Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Samuel and King David.  While other children of my generation read books about Dick and Jane that said,

See Spot run!

I was busy reading about the prophet Samuel who said,

Is the Lord as well pleased with offerings as He is with obeying His words?  To obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen to God’s word is more precious than to place offerings on His altar.

Today I am an avid and fast reader and I wonder if learning to read with a more difficult book than the Dick and Jane books (with certainly more interesting topics) help contribute to my reading skills.

At age seven my oldest sister gave me a “real” Bible for my birthday.  I was thrilled to graduate to the “real” thing.  However, in those days all we had was the King James Version with the “thee’s” and “thou’s” and it was very difficult for me.  Still, I plodded through the Bible reading from Genesis to Revelation.  Skipping over all the words I did not know or understand, most of my first attempts at reading the Bible went quickly as I found little that I really understood.  Still, I kept at it and slowly I began to understand the words.  Again, I’m sure this helped my vocabulary grow quicker than just reading the Dick and Jane books.

Along with reading the Bible, I began to memorize Scripture.  What a blessing that has been for me.  In difficult times I have found those words that I have hidden in my heart come back to give me hope and courage when I need it so desperately.

What to do when your parents fail you and you feel all alone?

The first time the Word was so precious to me was when I was fourteen years old.  My father who I adored made a drastic change in personality.  He left the church where he had been so faithful for years and walked out on my mother, my sister and me.  Making a 180 degree turn from everything he had taught me, he moved in with another woman and from that time on he never gave me any help financially or emotionally.  Leaving us to struggle to make ends meet and confused at his rejection, I turned to my mother for support.  However, she was not emotionally strong enough to give me that support.  She had never worked outside the home and facing the fear of finding a job plus the hurt and anger she felt, she was simply overwhelmed by it all.

Feeling confused, hurt and scared, I found a Scriputre that seem to leap out to me off the pages when I was reading in the book of Psalms.

When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.

The words were more than just words.  They were truth to my spirit.  I found the place of safety – the One who would never forsake me.  What a blessing to have discovered that truth at such a young age.

What to do when your husband is killed and you face life as a young widow with two little girls?

At age 33, I found the Word again a source of strength in a great time of need.  I was at work when my eleven-year-old daughter called and told me, “Mommy, I think Daddy is dead.”  My little girls had come home from school and the two of them found their father lying crushed under a car that he had been working on.  At first, I refused to believe he was dead – just hurt badly.  But when the truth slowly penetrated my mind, I panicked wondering how I would face life alone with two little girls to raise.

I had no more than sent up a prayer – “What am I going to do?” – when these words of Jesus came to my mind:

Lo, I am with you always!

And it again was true!  In the weeks, months, years ahead the Lord gave me peace, wisdom and strength to continue to love and teach my daughters.  He gave me joy in the midst of sorry and though at the time I never believed I would ever be happy again, He brought new happiness into my life when I was ready for it.

What to do when the doctor tells you the “odds are not in your favor” as you have an advanced and aggressive cancer?

Twenty-one years later, I faced another crisis.  Finding a lump in my left breast I had a mastectomy.  When the pathology report came back, they told me not only was there cancer in my left breast, but they had taken almost all the lymph nodes from my left arm and 13 of them were also cancerous.  My cancer was a very aggressive one and I was in Stage IIIC.  Prognosis was not good.  The doctor’s words to me are engraved on my heart and mind.  He said, “The odds are not in your favor.”

Holding my husband’s hand, I felt my body began to shake.  Again, I cried out to the one who said he would “take me up” and “never forsake me.”  Instantly, the words of another Psalm came to my mind.

Yea, though I walk though the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for You are with me.

I did not know exactly how the words were meant for me.  Would I walk through the valley of death and come out alive and whole on the other side?  Would I walk through that valley to my eternal destiny?  I was not sure.  But the thing that sustained me were the words “I will fear no evil for You are with me.

So I knew whatever happened I would still not be alone.  And I was not.  I have written in another post how God was with me in a very special way during my cancer treatment.

How thankful I am that I have built my life on the Words of God from an early age.  As I retired and began that “last stage” of my life, I have found another verse to cherish.  It is my prayer.

O God, thou hast taught me from my youth: and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works.  Now also when I am old and greyheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come.  Thy righteousness also, O God, is very high, who hast done great things: O God, who is like unto thee!

I now have many Bibles in my home, but the old Hurlbut’s Story of the Bible for Young and Old sits in a place of honor on my desk.  The pages are worn, the backing is almost gone, but I cherish it still.

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