When my dad told me he wanted to begin reading the Bible nearly twenty-five years ago, I gave him mine. It was full of highlighted passages and notes I’d written throughout its pages – most of which I thought probably wouldn’t mean a whole lot to him.
A few days later, I asked him how his reading was going. He told me he had read the entire book of John, at my suggestion, and he said he had a lot of questions. But first, he wondered about the blank pages in the back that I’d filled up with various quotations.
“There is a lot of wisdom on those pages,” he said.
“Whenever somebody says something that helps me understand myself – or anything – better, I jot it down,” I said. “I transferred those quotes to my Bible one day so I could have them all in one place.”
I asked him which ones spoke to him. He said he liked the quote, “Don’t let the dirt of your yesterdays bury your tomorrow.” And he liked this one too: “If every man swept his own back porch, the whole world would be clean.” (Unfortunately, I cannot give you a source for either quote because I didn’t record one, although the latter one seems to be a variation of something Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once wrote.)
By expressing his interest in my list of quotes, I got the feeling he was reaching out for a life preserver for the first time in a long time. The words offered him hope – partially, I think, because he knew I’d found hope in those many quotations; and partially, I think, because he was beginning to read the Bible and he was learning that as long as we breathe, redemption is possible. Not long after, it became a reality for him.
After he died, his Bible became my Bible again. I would have loved to have found a page on which he jotted quotations that spoke to him, but that wasn’t the case. Instead, I found this on the “Special Events” page near the front, “This Bible was given to me by my oldest son Lee, July 6-98.”
He actually considered my gift to be a special event — the same way that one might record a baptism, a birth or a death. Special events are supposed to be remembered. And so, July 6 is a special date on my calendar — one that reminds me of the day when the Scriptures pointed Dad toward the Savior.