Weekly Inspirational Reflections from the Reverend Dr. John A. Dalles
October 14, 2020
“Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”
Years ago, my great aunt mailed me the family Bible. All the way from San Jose, California, to Pennsylvania, it came. I was excited because I felt certain that when I opened the front cover, I would find the records of births and deaths and marriages of the family going back longer than I had any record. So I opened that big old Bible carefully. Guess what? Not one inscription was to be found, except the notation that it was a gift from my great-grandfather to my great-grandmother on the occasion of their first wedding anniversary, in Aspinwall, Pennsylvania.
For years, that big Bible stayed with me – because it was a treasure. It was not the Bible from which I read, so it ended up carefully stored in a box, unseen. It moved with me from Lancaster to South Bend, and from South Bend to Pittsburgh – still in the box.
Fast forward to when we were unpacking our house after we moved from Pittsburgh to Florida. In one big box, as it was opened, there was the big old family Bible. Judy was seeing it for the first time. She said, “Oh, this is really beautiful; we should have it out somewhere. How about on the desk in the living room?” I thought, “What a great idea!” So we put it in the middle of the desk, and then, because it was going to be displayed open rather than closed, I opened it. And, of course, what did I open it to, but the very middle, at Psalm 23.
Right in the middle of the Bible were twenty or thirty clippings from newspapers or bulletins from churches – all of which had something to do with our family history.
That experience is a great reminder to me that you never know what is in your Bible until you open it and pay close attention. Sometimes we will find what we expect to find there: comfort, strength, guidance, support, information. And sometimes we discover things about ourselves we did not even know were there. It is God’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes.
The Reverend Dr. John A. Dalles
Interim Senior Pastor, Shadyside Presbyterian Church
About Dr. Dalles
Read more about Dr. Dalles.
Watch a brief video introducing a series of conversations with Dr. Dalles.
About By God’s Side
Shadyside Presbyterian Church publishes By God’s Side, a weekly series of inspirational reflections from the Reverend Dr. John A. Dalles, to support you in your spiritual journey. These pastoral messages appear in the blog section of the church website each week. (Our weekly e-newsletter includes an excerpt to remind you to read along with us regularly; click here to subscribe to the e-newsletter if you do not already receive it.) We hope this regular feature will help you to draw closer to God’s side in your life of faith.
Read more reflections by Dr. Dalles from By God’s Side.