Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Lessons from Sam: On Education and Reading the Bible


Sunday, April 10th, was Sam Wiley's birthday. To celebrate, we spent the afternoon talking about life and lessons learned and I'm sharing some of those lessons this week.

Sam's family, like most families in the 1930's, was poor. They were sharecroppers, which meant they worked hard for every bite of food that went into their mouths. They bought things like sugar, salt, and a little coffee, but they grew or raised almost everything else.

Imagine that for a minute. No grocery store. No vegetable market. Just till and hoe and plant and pick. After the vegetables were picked, they were processed and preserved. Some things were sun-dried and some were canned, but nothing was wasted.

We learned yesterday that Sam's daddy had contracted TB while in the service. He wasn't a well man, but he was a hard-working man, despite his illness. Sam and his brothers helped on the farm. His sisters helped in the house. 

"Wouldn't it have been helpful to have the girls work in the garden?" 

"Oh, no. That was the boys' job. The girls had plenty to do in the house and putting up the food. We was a team. We all had a job and we knowed what it was. So we did it."

"What about school, Sam? You finished third grade, didn't you?"

"Well, I quit going to school at third grade, but you can't really say I ever went."

"Your parents didn't send you to school? Didn't they want you to learn to read and write?"

"My parents wanted me to have food to eat so I could stay alive. Yeah. They wanted to me to have learning, but sometimes other things are more important."

Imagine that for a minute. Sam's parents had to choose between living and learning. They chose life. 

Their choices were a far cry from ours today, but they might have been better off than we are in some ways. The most important things were clear, and they weren't gymnastics or cheerleading or sports. The most important things were faith, and life, and food. They dealt with what mattered and left the rest for someone else.

So, Sam didn't go to school much. He didn't learn to read or write. If you ask him, he'll tell you he can't read. That's not quite true, but he doesn't read well.

We talked about reading a few years ago, and he told me he could read better than some of his friends. He had one friend who could read "men" and "women" on the bathroom signs, but he couldn't read it if they used other words like "Gents" and "Ladies." That friend had ended up in the wrong bathroom more than once. Sam was grateful he could read better than that.

There's one thing he can read, though, and it's a constant source of amazement to me. He can't read the newspaper, but he can read his Bible, and he does. 

He opens the King James Version, with all the Thees and Thous and Whithersoevers, and asks God to help him know what the words say. And He does. Every time.

Sam knows the Bible better than most of us with college educations because he's taken the time to read the most precious book he owns. 

Sam's Bible is the only book he owns, because it's the only one that matters.

There are hundreds of books in my house, and I read them, but there's only one book that matters most. My Bible. We may not realize it, but the Bible is always the one book that matters most, no matter what else we have in our houses. 

An interesting thing happened as Sam worked to read the words in his Bible. He labored over ever word and, as time progressed, those words became a part of him. He spent time with them and, without meaning to, he memorized them. 

His vision isn't so good any more, so he listens to the Bible on tape now. One way or the other, Sam Wiley is keeping up with, and in, the Word of God. After 86 years, the Words of Life are planted deep in him, and you can tell it from the life he lives.

If we don't know what God says, we can't obey Him, so let's reevaluate our own commitment to Bible study today. Are we hungry for His truth, His righteousness? 

If we dig into the Word of God, it will be planted in our hearts in ways that change us and are visible to the world around us, so let's dig deep.


"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path." Psalm 119:105 KJV

"Thy word have I hid in mine heart that I might not sin against Thee." Psalm 119:11 KJV
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Don't miss the upcoming Bible study on the book of Hosea. We've had a great response so far, and registration is still open. The lessons will not be posted on this blog. There will separate links for them. This is a self-paced study that begins May 1. I will post one week at a time, doing one chapter a week, and you can work through the lessons at your leisure. The goal is to learn to dig deep for ourselves. I'm studying Hosea and writing the way I study as I go, including the questions I ask, the things I look up to clarify my questions, and the way I pull it all together. (including the links I use) I hope we will be able to pull Scripture together in a deeper way so that we understand both the book of Hosea, how it ties in with the rest of the Bible, with history, and with our times today. Everyone is welcome. We will have group work, but you don't have to participate to do the study. Message me or leave a comment to sign up. (We need an idea of numbers to arrange for help with the groups.) 

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#literacy #Biblestudy #SamWiley