The Most Influential Book of My Life
"Grace? Listen to Jesus restore the humiliated Simon Peter at the shore of Galilee.
"Stories! How they lodge in the deepest parts of a person's soul like haunting tunes that will not go away. How inter-generational they are: fascinating to the inquiring child, assuring to the adolescent, a source of wisdom and grit for the adult who finds him- or herself in a daily battle for spiritual direction."
Then my speech to the publishers reached its crescendo.
"The most influential book in all of my life? It has to be that collection of Bible stories Elsie Egermeier compiled in 1922 and that I discovered when I was exiled to my room for misbehaving in 1944. That book had a greater impact—proportionally!—upon the course of my life than anything else I have ever read. It caused me to define reality according to biblical specifications."
In all my years as a preacher, I have rarely ever constructed a sermon that did not reach back into one of the great scriptural stories for its foundation. As a father, I tried to make sure that our children were well-acquainted with the principles of life as illustrated in the Bible's heroes. In all my years as a Christ-following man, I have tied my personal perception of faith in God to those events where he is described as being utterly faithful and redemptive.
Elsie Egermeier gets a lot of credit for this.
I have written about this because I can't help but worry that a new generation of boys and girls are growing up with only a scant awareness of those same stories that I once pressed into my mind and heart as a five-year-old.
Bottom line: our faith in the God of Jesus Christ is built on the stories. Read them. Tell team. Learn from them.
PS: Thankfully, Elsie Egermeier's Bible Story book remains in print. Talk to the people at Warner Press in Anderson, Indiana, or search Amazon.com.
Oh, by the way: no one asked me to write this.
Gordon MacDonald is editor at large of Leadership Journal and chancellor of Denver Seminary.
Copyright © 2012 by the author or Christianity Today/Leadership Journal.
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