“Daddy, what are you reading?”
“Is it funny?”
“Not usually,” He looked down at me before paging to the comic strips. I climbed onto his knee as he read Family Circus and Peanuts. Then he had to explain the jokes.
“I think you are old enough to read your first book, what do you think?”
Mom looked down at me. I thought about it. It would be hard. I would have to sit still for long stretches of time in order to read a book all by myself. But I already loved books. I agreed; I was ready. We were at the library, and Mom helped me pick out my first book. It was about four kids, two sets of twins in the same family. They were the ‘Bobbsey Twins’.
“Can I have a book?”
I’d asked the question before and being the youngest of nine children I didn’t expect the answer to be yes.
“Yes, if we can find something.”
We were in a Christian bookstore, and although I had spent a lot of time longing for brand new books, I had never been able to have one of my own. On this occasion, my book expert, Mom, wasn’t there so Dad had to help. I’m sure he felt awkward, trying to figure out what his youngest daughter would like to read. Finally, I settled on a book that proved to be my favorite for a long time. I’m sure I have it somewhere. It separated from its binding years ago, and the pages have split into five different stacks.
It was about a little girl and her brother who got lost in the islands of the Pacific Northwest. The Indians in Puget Sound helped them. They didn’t kill and eat them because of her curly red hair. Just like her saviors, I was fascinated by her hair. If you pulled on one of her curls, it stretched way out. When you let go, it bounced back into place.
Many library books followed and a few new books. I drove my older sister crazy, searching her closet for her books; I always found them and read them over and over again. George Mueller’s story, Young Rebel in Bristol, Francena Arnold’s dramatic fiction, and Grace Livingston Hill’s lovely old-fashioned tales filled many an hour.
During the school year, as often as I was allowed, I could be found in the library section of the Christian school—there, or in my dad’s office. In both places, I devoured the stories of missionaries who risk their lives and sacrificed all to carry the gospel to the far reaches of the earth. They defied the coldness of the Iron Curtain to smuggle the mighty ‘Sword of the Spirit’ to the church. They clothed the poor, gave medicine to the sick, stood for truth in the midst of lies and motivated men everywhere to turn to Jesus. I was swept away with their stories and amazed by their living examples of what God could do.
The school library had a good selection including the classics, but my favorite place for books was my dad’s library. He had the missionary stories, and much more. There were books like Praying Hyde, Green Leaf In Drought Time, Of Whom The World Was Not Worthy, Bruchko, and Eternity In Their Hearts. They all taught me something. George Whitefield taught me of freedom to speak outside of man’s limitations. Smith Wigglesworth’s story gave me a hunger to see God move and do "beyond what we can think or imagine". Arthur Wallis’ writings gave an alertness to look and pray for revival.
It was wonderful to smell the mustiness of those books, run your hands along the hard covers of the theology books, and hear the squeaking of his chair. I would ask questions, and he would rummage along the shelves to select the book with the answers. The best part was curling up in the chair across from his desk and silence would fall as we dipped into another world—a world where anything was possible if God was on your side.
“Dad, how did Noah get the dinosaurs into the ark?”
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