Chapter 8: “This Old Book.” 3, Return to Home Places

When does Bible study end?  It doesn’t. It’s set aside for a while, taken up again as we have time, or it continues unabated.  Through these studies, my old, ratty-looking Bible has nearly fallen apart, and my new NRSV is looking a bit worn and soiled. I’ll continue to use them both. Will I still be using these same books if, Lord willing, I’m still around in my eighties and nineties?

four-mile-32Back in chapter 2, I appreciated my roots in and around my hometown. Not long ago, I drove out to the familiar countryside of Four Mile Prairie, the way to my grandma’s house so many years ago. Illinois 185 is a narrow, country road, and I know not only the place today but also all the stories I was once told of kinfolk who lived along the route.  The day was sunny and the timber on the close horizon, just beyond the fields, filled me with gratitude for being able to revisit a beloved landscape throughout my life.

Arriving at the Brownstown blacktop, I turned north and, a few miles up the way, passed a small house that, I was told, once belonged to my great-grandparents John and Susan Crawford. Perhaps this was the place where one of them, in 1906, neatly folded and saved a Sunday school quarterly page, and decades later the Spirit witnessed to the teenaged me through that unknown writer’s words and, along with other influences, set me on a journey:

This old Book will survive the century. It has lighted [us] all round so far, and there is a world of light to shine out from it upon all sorts of positions and all sorts of questions … … let us study the Bible; let us love it; let us obey it; and if we do, we shall share in its immortality. “All flesh is grass, and all the glory of [humans] is the flower of grass. The grass withereth and the flower falleth away, but the word of the Lord endureth forever.”  Let us identify ourselves with that eternal righteousness of which this book is the oracle; and [we] that doeth the will of God abideth forever.

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