My maternal grandmother and mother have been the caretakers of an old Bible that belonged to my great grandparents, William and Grace Coston. It’s huge and heavy—almost too big and cumbersome to read from my lap. The tattered leather cover is bound by an old brass clasp, and it’s pages are yellowed and fragile. Both my great grandmother and grandmother have written family names and made notations in the front leaves. I was curious to find anything written by them, especially personal. It has been so long since I have seen it, but I have a dim recollection that grandma Grace wrote a few sentences about praying and hoping that her entire family would experience salvation one day and heaven. The memory is sketchy, and this may have been written on a note that was kept in that old Bible. The ink fading with age, a wave of warm connectedness washed over me as I examined her handwriting and contemplated her thoughts. Like an arrow on a mission, the eternal life in her prayer and desire ignited a present and living hope in me for the salvation of my own family. As a mother and grandmother, there is nothing more important for which to yearn or pray.
Decades later, I have the vantage point of time and distance since grandma Grace first penned those words. I can see how God‘s ear was open to her heart and answered prayers abundantly.
I also love the fact that the family in those days probably kept that Bible close to the dining room table. Someone, most likely grandpa William, opened it and read it aloud to their 12 children! That was the purpose of having a family Bible—that it was shared, read, and accessible to the all.
Part of my wonderful Christian heritage is that our family read the Bible together too. It was sometimes after dinner. I remember going through the book of Proverbs together and other books. Every Christmas Eve, dad read the Christmas story to us from the book of Luke. My parents kept it brief because our attention spans were short. The point being, though, that they did it. We read the Bible together and prayed, if only briefly.
My parents are approaching their 74th wedding anniversary! A rare occurrence of commitment in a post-modern world. I attribute this phenomenon to prayer and attention to biblical precept. They are part of the WW2 generation that just doesn’t give up on responsibility, commitment, or people! They are to be commended for their faithfulness!
There’s no way this means that our family was perfect. Like all families, we had areas of dysfunction and pain. However the foundation of knowing that a family can endure anything by turning to God in every season—happy or sorrowful—was very real and present.
I deeply appreciate the love letter that God has written to us and cherish it even more than a few words written from my family generations ago.
The Lord of Creation didn’t want us to wonder if we were loved. He gave us Scripture that we could read and see—even test for ourselves—to show God’s magnanimous affection and plan. Here are a few words of love the Father has for us:
The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” Jeremiah 31:3
“The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17
God yearns to have a relationship with us.
We are all sinners (Romans 3:23) and the punishment for sin is death (Romans 6:23). But God, in His love, provided a way for us so that we don’t need to die for our sin. He sent His Son, Jesus, without sin, to be the sacrifice for our sin. He died in my place. He died in your place.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”John 3:16
“But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
This is how God showed his love to the world—He sent His one and only Son that we might live through Him.
“This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:9-10
Daily I find great comfort and guidance in God’s words.
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, no any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39
One of my favorite love promises that I absolutely stake my life on is this:
“Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations,” Deuteronomy 7:9
Imagine that! His steadfast love and covenant is to 1000 generations for those who love God and keep his words! 1000 generations! I cannot contain it. I agree with my great grandmother’s prayers and add for a 1000 generations of people that pray, read and understand God’s word, and know him. May his blessings overtake us as promised by the Great Promise Maker.