I will always love the sound of turning pages, touching paper, following the type of letters and sounds that lead to words and make me think. Things that make me go back and read it over and over. Wondering over it all.
A week ago I picked up a an old, familiar book of my grandma’s. She died when I was eight. I still remember the look on my dad’s face when he came and I didn’t yet know what. Just that something was wrong with grandma. Granddad gave me the pearl necklace she was given upon her graduation from eighth grade, the watch she received when she finished high school and her wedding ring. I’m sentimental and am in love with the past, so these items of hers, things she cherished and wore, remind me.
Yet what I prize the most of her earthly belongings is a book.
After my granddad passed, my father inherited a large book case my granddad had made, filled with his collection of classic literature, theological volumes and whatever else fell into his hands. I use to run my fingers across each one, looking for something to sink into, something that had gone through my grandfather’s head.
It was the smallest thing. I’m sure I had skipped over it’s unnoticeable blue cover many times before. The title – God Speaks, written by Frederick W. Brink. I’m not even sure of the copyright – it’s in roman numerals and evidently I was absent every day of school that we learned how to read them.
It was old. It even felt fragile and had that old book smell. But it looked new. My grandma wrote her name in it, the evidence it had belonged to her. But the pages looked unturned.
So I began to turn them.
I have read this book twice through over the last few years. But something stopped me last week.
The unnumbered page entitled, I Am a God Who Speaks, had this to say to me early in the morning, ” I am the God who made you for himself, so that when I speak it is to hold you close beside me.” Wait – read it again. I can barely type the words without a chill running through.
This word, speak. It is a verb. It demands a voice to be put to something. It can be a challenge or depending on the topic come with such ease and commanding presence that you don’t even realize what is coming out. It’s a part of who you are.
That’s what I think of when I read this line, “I am the God who made you for himself, so that when I speak it is to hold you close beside me.” This God, who made me for himself, who even speaks to me, does it to hold me close beside him. That’s the way it is sometimes. When I’m closest to my God, I don’t even realize what is coming out. It pours out. It is a part of who I am and who I am becoming.
I tell my children that He speaks to me. Sometimes I get a screwed up face that thinks I’m making it up. Or a, “That’s nice mom,” look. But there is one face that says, “Really? How?” And I say, “When I am close beside Him.”
And that’s the key, the secret formula. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” That’s the beautiful wisdom of James, brother of Jesus, who grew up so close to God. We say he didn’t know it, but I think he must have known something, denied it, and then thought better.
Speak to God. Come up close. He will speak to you and hold you close beside. Is there any better place to be?