I told my friend I was going to a football game the other night. She’s Miss Sports, so she joked that maybe I was turning over a new leaf of athleticism.
“No,” I said. “Because I seriously considered asking Matt if he would mind if I took my Kindle to the game.”
I read books, and I do it very well. I can even read while flossing, turning Kindle pages with my pinky. I console myself that this is an enviable fine motor skill.
I used to read for entertainment. Mom would take me regularly to the Ben Franklin’s department store downtown, and I would look eagerly for the next novel in the Trixie Beldon mystery series. I was in love with the character Jim, I confess.
But one day, a few decades ago, I decided I should start reading on purpose and not just for fun.
I started looking for books that would help me grow in my relationship with the Lord. In particular, I began to choose stories of people who loved God with all of their hearts. Looking back, I would say these people became, in my mind, the great cloud of witnesses talked about in Hebrews 12:1:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
We are surrounded by people who have lived with their eyes fixed on Jesus, and we can leverage the testimony of their experiences to boost our own ability to persevere. Their stories can help us build our own stories of unwavering faith.
First the Bible stories, where we see unbreakable friendship in David and Jonathon, unbending faith in Daniel, and courage in Esther. Then we can pile on stories of missionaries and of others who have pushed through danger and exhaustion and discouragement in their love for the Lord.
The latest book on my kindle is written by Jennifer Ebenhack. It’s called In a Sunscorched Land: A Memoir of Adoption, Faith, and The Moving of Haiti’s Mountains. Jennifer has taken her seat as a witness, speaking of the value in fixing one’s eyes on Jesus. Her words have spoken perseverance to me, and I find myself pushing through some hard things because I saw how she did it. Braving years of struggle in Haiti, to adopt her kids and to endure physical and spiritual hardship and danger, Jen shows us how to keep going with the Lord, even when nothing makes sense. I recommend her story to you. (It had me turning pages as fast as my pinky could go.)
“Jesus is worth it,” the witnesses say.
So my question for you: Are you filling your mind with people’s stories of persevering faith?
I would love to hear your book suggestions. What’s one person’s story you’ve read that has helped you keep your eyes on Jesus?