We just purchased a house and the boxes we packed in Illinois are beginning to be unboxed and now adorn our new home in South Carolina. With a busy schedule, life unfolds out of the boxes in our garage in slow stages of discovery. Today I found the last box of my over 4,000 volume library and it was a good one.
The box was marked “novels and short stories.” A few slices through the packing tape and the cardboard flaps opened and then my friends were free. Shakespeare, Dorothy Sayers, J.R.R. Tolkien, Flannery O’Connor, Aldous Huxley, Frank Herbert, Thomas Hardy, Douglas Adams (the rollicking Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe series), Chaim Potok, John O’Hara, George MacDonald, and Brett Lott (perhaps the best substantive-Christian novelist writing today now that Walker Percy has left the scene), they were all there.
So many memories. So many mind, spirit, soul-expanding thoughts, questions, arguments, challenges are in those pages and in the arguments and discussions I carry on in the margins of all the books I read. Many of the books have been read two or three times, a few even more. Every read is a new adventure and every ending bittersweet. But now they are out of the box, shelved and ready to be revisited.
Reading, and reading broadly has been a passion for me since the summer of 4th grade. That summer I was behind my classmates in reading capability. Mom and Dad sent me to summer school where Mrs. Sullivan taught me and showed me “the wonder of story” that has nourished and challenge my soul ever since.
Mom and Dad live with Jesus now and Mrs. Sullivan is probably gone from the scene as well. But I am eternally grateful for their wisdom, patience, and skill in helping me to become a reader.
“Readers are leaders and leaders are readers,” goes the oft-quoted proverb. The books on my shelves and the wisdom of those writers (and sometimes the silliness and absurdity of the perspectives) have all contributed to making me a better man, husband, father, leader, thinker, and pastor than I otherwise would have been. And whether the book is a novel, philosophy, science, theology, language, history, politics, geography, technical journals, biographies, or gardening, those books have provided thousands of hours of pleasure through the years.
Coveted as they are however, given the choice to take one book for the rest of my life, I would not hesitate to take the Bible over all of them. Jesus put it this way,
You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me;
Give me the word that leads to eternal life and the presence of Christ over every treasured page in every treasured book in my library.
So, for those of you reading along with us in our Reading with the Pastor journey for the remainder of the year, I hope you will continue to carve out the time to read along with us and grow with us as we search the Scriptures. The only book that reveals the heart of God and the nature and person of Christ and points the way to forgiveness, purpose, and eternal life. God’s best to you as you read.