Like many of you, I was born into a family that—on both sides—consisted of faithful, practicing Protestants. Being a child in this family meant weekly church and Sunday School attendance as well as lots of exposure to Bible storybooks read aloud by willing relatives.
Early on I became fascinated with books and reading. Everyone knew it. The answer to "Where's Nan?" was always "off somewhere reading." Knowing that I was called by books, my clever Great Aunt Lydia gave me a special present the summer after my 7th birthday: a small, zippered Bible, just my size. It was the King James, small print, illustrated with black and white photos. Really? For a 7-year-old? What was she thinking?! But here's the clever part—in the front she wrote a quotation just for me (without citation!) and challenged me to read the Bible to see if I could find it: As thy days, so shall thy strength be.
Aunt Lydia started me on a life-long journey of studying the Bible. Her challenge led me to read other Bible versions and books about the Bible, including my mother's college textbook on the Bible as literature. It made me an eager student (truly!) in Old and New Testament classes at Lutheran summer camp. It prompted me to minor in religion in college and to continue studying the Bible throughout my adult life.
Did I ever find the source of the quotation? Yes, I finally did, by using the search tools of the digital age. (Can you?) By that time I had behind me many years of following the call of The Book: reading the Bible, collecting and studying books about the Bible, and being shaped by that study—thanks to Aunt Lydia's challenge.
About the Contributor
Nan McDaniel, a retired teacher and school district administrator, has served FPCS as a Deacon and an Elder as well as, on an interim basis, director of our education and discipleship ministries. She is one of the teachers of the Bible Alive! class and, with husband Tom, leads the Tuesday/Thursday noontime adult study groups. She is co-owner of a large and steadily growing home library of Bibles and books about the Bible, the church, and the Christian life.