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Home > 2012 > November Online Only > The Most Influential Book of My Life

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"One day," I said, "when I was nearly five years of age, my mother banished me to my bedroom because I had done something bad. What my mother didn't know—and I never told her—was that being sent to my room was hardly a punishment. It was actually a gift. I was an introvert—even at the age of 5—and my room was a safe and quiet place where I could explore my interior world without the intrusion of extroverts who, like my mother, often trespassed on my treasured privacy.

"Once in my room," I told the audience, "I began rummaging through a box of books someone had dropped by our home. I guess I was looking for something that might appeal to a child—a picture book, perhaps.

"Only one book in the box turned out to pique my curiosity, and I've sometimes wondered if this was one of those moments when the Holy Spirit initiates a beautiful, life-changing thing in a person's (even a child's) life? Taking the book from the box, I examined it. It had a deep maroon cover, and the title embossed on its face in large golden letters read: "Bible Stories by Elsie Egermeier."

"When I thumbed through the pages, I soon discovered that Ms. Egermeier's book recounted every Bible story in chronological order from Genesis to Revelation. Many of the stories were accompanied by black and white illustrations. On one page was an illustration of Joshua at Jericho. On another: Jesus pacifying the storm on Galilee.

"Now, I was not yet able to read the stories on my own," I told the publishers, "but I was captured instantly by those illustrations. In the months that followed, I taught myself to read (with some help, of course) and finally reached the time almost a year later when I was able to read every story in Elsie Egermeir's book.

"Thanks to this book, my core knowledge of the Bible took a quantum leap, and my nascent Christian faith began to form around those stories."

I went on to point out that while there are those who build their understanding of the Christian life around the propositions in the Pauline letters, mine was built around the stories of disparate people who, through the biblical generations, obeyed or disobeyed God.

"What does it mean to obey God?" I asked the audience. "For me the answer springs from the story of Abraham ascending a mountain to offer his son back to the Heavenly Father.

"And how to you define faith? I came to understand it from the adventures of Gideon, David and Goliath, and Elijah on Mount Carmel.

"How does God call people to his service? You'll find the answer in Moses' moment at the burning bush, in Esther's challenge from Mordecai, and in Mary's response to the angel when she was told she was to be the mother of Jesus.

"Prayer? You learn about it from Jesus in the garden or from the small group that interceded all night for Peter in prison.

"Compassion? Watch the father of the Prodigal son, and imagine the efforts of the Good Samaritan.

"Courage? Zoom in on Stephen. Integrity? Read about Daniel. Failure? Observe Solomon going downhill as he becomes full of himself.

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Gordon MacDonald is chancellor of Denver Seminary and editor-at-large for Leadership Journal. He is author of numerous books, including Going Deep: Becoming A Person of Influence.

Posted: November 5, 2012

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Displaying 2–6 of 6 comments

SCOTT RECORDS

November 13, 2012  1:13pm

I have virtually the same testimony - at least the same book. It was on the bottom shelf of my mom's bookcase. She never read it to me. I "discovered" it and read it over and over and over. I analyzed the blue and white maps inside the front and back covers. I have no doubt that it influenced me more than any other book - in seminary or elsewhere. I praise God for Elsie Egermeier and for the fruit God produced through her simple retelling the stories in the Word in a way that can capture a child's heart.

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John C. Douglas (New Zealand)

November 07, 2012  12:49pm

Reading this article is Far out! I went to a church family camp when I was 12 years old (came from a non-Christian home and gave my life to Christ @ age 9, some 60 years ago last New Zealand Labour-Day weekend"), and was looking at the temporary book-selling table set up to encouraging campers to buy and read Christian literature I "found" Elsie's E's book . . . the man looking after the sales said "you should buy that it will help you read the Bible, if you pay half, I'll cover the rest – I bought it!! It became my companion as a child, adolescent, first reference as a Sunday School teacher and volunteer children's worker, youth leader, young church elder preparing to preach, beginning pastor, and Christian educator - still tell students "get an illustrated Children's Bible story book and read the text there first - for the story/narrative get an Egermeier's or Uncle Arthur's." Still in my library, still lives "on and off the shelf", still my "first call in narrative hermeneutics”.

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Gregg Andrew Bisset

November 06, 2012  3:17pm

I to was blessed to have a Children bible full of pictures and stories and a mum who read them to me. A Christian Primary school where I was fascinated with the large prints like Jesus carrying a lamb. Devotions after dinner of "Little visits from God" which my four children now want to read to their children my grand children. Let every young parent read and recognize this both the time spent in relationship with the child and they eternal impact this has.

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Matt Tague

November 06, 2012  1:14pm

This is a great article. I have written a blog post on some of the better Bible Storybooks available today. You can read it here: http://pastormatttague.com/2012/07/18/the-big-blog-of-bible-storybooks/

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mlou01@comcast.net

November 06, 2012  1:07pm

Wow, That choice surprises only a little. It is one of my treasured books from childhood.

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