All of my life I have struggled with reading. In primary, grammar, high school and college, reading was a burden. The older I got the less my eyes wanted to cooperate. I read what I had to read to get by and that was it.
Then it happened. At the ripe old age of 65, someone loaned me a book by John Grisham. The title was ‘THE FIRM‘, and I nearly had heart failure when I saw it was 501 pages. Half way through the book I thought, what a great writer and why couldn’t it have been a thousand pages. I was caught in the net.
My wife Ann, had tried in vain to get me started 45 years before, but to no avail. Grisham hooked me. I’m looking at eleven of his books resting on my library shelf. My eyes are not good but I still reserve some time every day to read. O yes, I have read the Bible through a number of times, but that was just a necessary part of my life as a minister. I had 1500 books in my library before we scaled down, but those were mainly for ‘show’.
Now I can’t count the authors I love on my fingers and toes. Writing is an art – reading is sheer pleasure. The door to the world opens when you open a book. A few weeks ago I checked out the ‘COLUMBIA COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY“. The people behind the counter were cheerful, and the books were just the beginning. They have CD’S, DVD’S, VCR’S, and they even have books on tape… You can use their computers to connect on the internet. Instructors are available to teach you English. It is an endless treasure that is FREE to residents of Lake City. Get your card today.
MICHAEL PHILLIPS is an author I discovered recently. He has written twenty-two best sellers and I got hooked on the SHENANDOAH SISTERS. The titles, “ANGELS WATCHING OVER ME“, “A DAY TO PICK YOUR OWN COTTON“, “THE COLOR OF YOUR SKIN AIN’T THE COLOR OF YOUR HEART” and “TOGETHER IS ALL WE NEED” This powerful series should be a must-read for everyone. What a great writer.
In the book which is the title of this essay, one of the characters is an old black man named “Henry”. What he wrote was wise and wonderful and I wanted to share it with each of you. The rest of this article is a quotation (pages 132-133).
(Quote) “I’m sure most of the white folks who’d known Henry for years just looked at him and saw a quiet colored man who couldn’t speak as well as them, and who couldn’t even read, and took him for an ignorant man. That’s the trouble with people of all colors. They judge folks by what they think they see, which is usually only on the outside. But it’s what’s on the inside that really counts. That’s what makes a person who he or she really is . . . and sometimes it take a little work to dig down and see what someone’s made of, what kind of stuff their character has in it. That’s just about one of the most important things in life – learning how to do that. Just learning how to find out what people are made of. Henry had a saying that he said every once in a while that he said explained a lot about life. It was that the color of your skin ain’t the color of your heart. Then he’s say that the color of your heart was the most important thing in all of life. Was it dark and full of mean and selfish and unkind things? Or was your heart light and pink and warm and full of kind and unselfish things? Someday he said, maybe not till we died, everything that was on the outside would fall away, and what color your skin was and where you lived and what people thought about you and how much money you had . . . none of that would matter because no one would see it anymore. The only thing they would be able to see was the color of your heart. Some hearts would be ugly and dark, and others would be warm and light and full of love. It wouldn’t matter what color your skin was then.” (unquote)
God didn’t give us any pictures. He gave us words. Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that hears my word, and believes on Him that sent me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life . . . Search the scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal life; and they are they which testify of me” (John 5:24,39).
John sums up his book with these words, “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written, that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you might have life through his name” (John 20:30-31)
After all, the Bible was written by some 40 authors, over a period of some 1500 years; this was some 2000 years before the DIVINCI CODE was ever written, much less broken. I wonder where that book will be in a thousand years, or maybe 500 years, or perhaps even 100 years. “The word of the Lord endures forever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you” (I Peter 1:25).
Old Henry couldn’t read or write but in spite of that, he was very wise. “THE COLOR OF YOUR SKIN IS NOT THE COLOR OF YOUR HEART“.