Four children have graciously been entrusted to our care thus far, and my husband and I have nearly reached our 8th year of parenthood.
These years have been as full as our hands.
We’ve had themed birthday parties. We’ve started a homeschool. We hold to all the great holiday rituals. There have been “Daddy-Daughter dates” and “Father-and-Son outings” and shopping days for just the girls. There have been “Life Day” celebrations and Field Days and theatrical plays and countless moments of family togetherness.
But nothing we have done or hosted or accomplished or planned in our time as a mother and father has compared to what God has wrought in our midst in the last month.
It began as a stirring, a spontaneous tug, during a typical read-aloud session at school. The book was “Sarah Whitcher’s Story”, and as I read aloud to my two eldest children, my heart experienced a quick pang of yearning when the story highlighted the Whitcher family’s nightly ritual of reading the Bible together.
The children in this story were practically babies, just like ours, and the scene brought to mind all the stories I’ve read over the years of pioneers and Pilgrims, stories of families who had so much less than we do but who treasured the Word of God as their life and breath.
These forefathers and mothers had no picture Bibles. No daily devotional books. No storybook collections of biblical heroes.
Just the Bible.
The thought flitted across my mind as quickly as the turn of a page. “I want this…I NEED this…”
But before I knew it, the plot of the story thickened and I was following Sarah Whitcher through the woods on a big adventure, her family ritual forgotten, and along with it, my desire to follow suit.
And so how could I know possibly know that, later that evening, in an act of true love and kindness, God was going to bring my yearning to fulfillment and bring to pass a MOST surprising turn of events?
After tucking the children into their beds that night, I spontaneously plopped down nearby in my Granny’s old mauve upholstered rocker and opened up my son’s Bible to the first chapter of John.
It was as Spirit-led a moment as I’ve ever experienced, so sacred and poignant and perfectly-timed that it took my breath away, on the spot!
How well I remember the nights in years past when we attempted to have “family worship” in that very same nursery, children rolling all over the place, interruptions galore, tears and fighting and eyes that were glazed over in ambivalence. My husband and I would leave the upstairs nursery after “family worship” and I would feel more frazzled and frustrated than I had been during the children’s bathtime, which is saying quite a lot.
But this night was so very different.
The room was still. Calm. Beautiful. And by the light of the lamp on the corner dresser, I began to read.
The words of John’s witness rolled off of my tongue and landed straight upon my heart where unceasing prayers sprang up for our household. And the children listened, spellbound.
I finished the first chapter and moved to shut the Book, but to my great surprise, they asked for more.
I finished the second chapter and they asked for more.
I finished the third chapter and they asked for still more.Occasionally, there would be an interruption so a question could be asked. Or one of the children would exclaim, “Hey! I know this story! We read this in our class!!”
By the end of the fourth chapter, two of the three children had fallen fast asleep. I shut the Bible and, after kissing the sleepy straggler goodnight, I tiptoed downstairs with my heart absolutely full of worshipful contentment, amazed beyond belief at what had just taken place on the second floor of our home.
The next night was very much the same.
Teeth brushed, final bathroom runs complete, pajamas on, the eldest children crawled into their beds, I turned on the lamp and, with my 3-year old nestled in my lap, I began to read, picking up from where we had left off the night before.
Once again, they were eager to listen, asking questions, making comments and proving without question that their hearts were ripe for this harvest.
The words of Life, coupled with the intoxicating ambiance of a nursery turned down for bedtime, seemed to calm them and feed them, simultaneously, and it is with this beyond-simple ritual that we now consistently end our day. My youngest daughter falls asleep in my lap, without fail, and most usually her big brother and sister eventually join her in slumber, dictating where we will end that night’s reading. Sometimes we cover four chapters, sometimes we read one, but every night of our Bible reading has been undeniably rich with meaning and satisfaction and familial affection.
And best of all, perhaps, is the nourishment that I, their mother, have received from this practice.
It is no secret to those who know me well that a “daily quiet time” of reading the Word has long evaded my grasp. To my great shame and distress, I have tried and failed for a good twenty years to sit down with my Bible on a faithfully consistent basis to draw strength and wisdom from its depths.
I have cried about this failure, I have heaped guilt upon my head because of this failure, and I have prayed about this failure, begging God to give me a love for His word that I would find irresistible.
And, oh my.
I never dreamed that He would choose to answer these prayers for help in such a perfect way, surrounded by my favorite little children aged 7 and under. As I read to my babies, the Spirit pricks my heart, illuminates mysteries, woos and comforts and convicts. To my children, I am just reading, but in my heart, I am being changed, and I have grown addicted to the daily rhythm of rocking my family to sleep under this spoken cadence of truth.
And as I make my way down the stairs every night, I can feel it from my head to my toes that, of all the things I have done for my children, this one is the most important, by miles.
The Bible was enough for Sarah Whitcher’s family and their counterparts because it was all they had.
And do you know what? It is still enough today.
I am passionate about helping young families. If God has used this post to encourage you, or if you know anyone who will benefit from it, I invite you to share! And if you’d like to stay in touch with Mrs. Gore and her family, find us on Facebook!