Each year I try to read the entire Bible. Many people (speaking of Christians) don’t read the Bible for a variety of reasons such as; it’s boring, it doesn’t apply to my life, I don’t understand it, or it takes too long. Understanding comes by studying though, and studying does take time and repetition. Since the Bible covers such a vast amount of time, there is no way I could comprehend it all with just one read-through. Just as the subject of history was repeated and expanded upon each year through my primary and high school years, I decided some time ago that God’s word was important enough to study and expand my knowledge of who He is by reading, and then re-reading, the Bible. It really does not take that much time (about 20-30 minutes, about 5 chapters, per day), and understanding of God’s ways, times, and cultures, increases each year.
About a month ago, I was speaking with a visitor at my church who mentioned that he uses the New American Standard Bible (NASB). I was immediately interested, remembering that my grandfather’s Bible is that version. I have read several Bible versions, and have my own favorite one that I normally read. I was close to finishing reading it through for the year. Upon hearing this friend talk about the accuracy of the NASB version, I decided it was time, in 2021, to read this version that I hadn’t yet read.
Back at home in my prayer room, I took the Bible from the shelf and thumbed through it. Reminiscing, I looked at my grandfather’s funeral service bulletin tucked into the front of the book titled A Service of Death And Resurrection. Following that service in 2007, family gathered together at my grandfather’s home to share stories and love. My dad and aunt had chosen to give the grandchildren opportunity to choose keepsakes from my grandparents’ home (my grandmother had passed about 18 months earlier). One thing that I chose to take for a treasure was Grandpa’s Bible lying in the magazine rack next to his reclining chair. Picking it up, I thumbed through it. There appeared to be nothing in the Bible, except a purple cloth bookmark labeled How to Use the Bible, with scriptures listed for every common need. There were no markings—highlighting or underlining—that I could see with a quick glance.
While growing up, my brothers and I periodically spent the night with my grandparents. At the end of the evening, the TV would be turned off, and Grandpa would read from The Daily Bread devotional booklet and then read the recommended scriptures from his Bible. While in college, I occasionally returned for a weekend visit. During one particular visit, the night got late and I retired to my room. I quieted the Danish coo-coo clock on the wall so that I could sleep, and turned out the light. Minutes later my grandmother came in. She asked me to get up and come out while Grandpa read the day’s devotion and scripture. I cherish that memory now. Who knows why they did that—being so specific as to get me out of bed for the devotion. Maybe they thought their oldest granddaughter was becoming a little too distant and reckless away at college—which was true—or maybe they realized their responsibility to speak the Word to future generations to instill, treasure, and save (Deuteronomy 11:19).
So this year, the fourteenth after his passing, I began reading the NASB New Testament. Matthew; Mark; then I skipped forward to look something up in John, and there it was. John 14:1, underlined! “Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.” “Me” was double-underlined. And then verse 6. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.” Treasure! I’ve found treasure within the treasure, and a glimpse into what was important in my grandfather’s life.
I decided to add several Psalms to each day’s reading to assure I would get through the Bible in a year or less. Another underlining! Psalm 5:1 “Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my groaning.” This one deeply hurt my heart, knowing some of the great disappointments and troubles of my grandparents’ lives, and it drew my heart even closer to them. Like all people, my grandparents made mistakes, made people angry, hurt people, but mostly, they loved their family and neighbors and worked hard.
As I think of Grandpa’s continued maturing in old age, and especially through horrible tragedies, he became a little quieter, more loving, more thoughtful, ever-more humble and kind. He was always a fun and loving grandfather; teasing, horse rides, rumble seat rides in local parades, homemade ice-cream, special-made buttered popcorn, holiday board games—just a few of my favorite times.
There is a time for everything under the sun. It’s been so many years. Why am I reading this Bible now, 14 years later? I looked up the meaning of the number 14 in The Divinity Code (Thompson & Beale). Three biblical references to the number fourteen are 1) Double measure of spiritual perfection, 2) Passover, and 3) Deliverance and liberty. I am thrilled with the spiritual references—things I can certainly relate to and hope for this year. I remember at the passing of each of my grandparents that I asked the Lord to pass on—adding to mine—their spiritual faith. The Lord hears and answers our requests.
As I dig deeper into this Holy Book, I find other neat and gentle under-linings. Maybe some are from my grandmother, or maybe they were placed there after her passing; a small scrap of paper that simply says “BLESS”, and another that says “Micah 6:8” (“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”). Despite the chaos that I see in the world today, this is going to be a very good year. A year-long treasure hunt of spiritual blessings from my grandparents. A Happy New Year indeed!