At age four a bible storybook was the only way my parents could persuade me to take some particularly hideous pink medicine. I remember standing in the kitchen grappling with this major dilemma – “Medicine or book? Book or medicine?” I gave in and swallowed – and I got my book. As I remember it was one about Gideon and I still have it.
From that day on books have played an incredibly big part in my life. Bible reading was central to family life and children’s books fueled my imagination, focused my mind on God’s word and built up my life and aspirations in valuable and fascinating ways. I read about Gladys Aylward and I so wanted to be her. The story of Mary Slessor frightened me at first – but she was a red head – and that counted for a lot. Patricia St John’s books could only be described as thrilling. And as for the Ivan stories – well – he was my hero.
But the Peep of Day by F L Mortimer is probably the one book that influenced me the most next to the faithful teaching of God’s word by my parents. I had just turned seven years old and couldn’t imagine ever being any other age. Seven was the tops and if I multiplied that age by two then I’d be ancient. But one evening as I was reading The Peep of Day before going to sleep I came across the story about the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears. In a powerful, knock-you-off-the-edge-of-the-bed-moment, I was facing another dilemma. “Jesus Christ or Me? Me or Jesus Christ?”
I realized that I didn’t love Jesus in the same way that this woman did and that I was being given a choice. I didn’t actually make the right choice then – even though my mum came in and found me in tears – I wouldn’t do it. It’s one of the regrets of my life that I turned away from Jesus Christ at seven years old. But in his mercy that book, His word and this experience were used again in the future. Years later I gave in and let God take control.
What happened that night so many years ago has shown me one valuable thing. Children are sinners too. We all need a savior and there is nothing in God’s word that is keeping a child back from coming to trust in Christ. What kept me back was me. But the one who brought me back was Christ.