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As a youngster, Brianna came to love reading. It made a big difference in her development, not only in her IQ, but giving her comprehension in life early on through the written page. When she was six or seven I believe, the local library had a contest for children one summer to encourage them to “get into reading”. For each age group, they had a prize to see who could read the most books and write a brief book report on each read. Of course, Brianna took this challenge on whole heartedly and read a book a day at least. These were not kindergarten books of twenty pages, but more like 50 to 75 pages each. But by the end of the summer, once the reports were turned in, she came out on top—how exciting it was for her, which also made proud parents.
The following summer the same library offered the challenge once more and Brianna again stepped up to the plate, but this summer each book was 100-150 pages which she read (setting her own bar), including also a book report with each. She read close to 100 books that summer and again took home first place. (Forgive us for the ‘acclaim’—we want to hang on to those memories, we think you can understand why.) But back to the story which inspired this blog, “The Inside Story”.
As Brianna’s parents, we realized the seriousness of raising a child according to the biblical command, to “bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”1 So even while she was still in the womb, we read to her, recognizing that in so doing, the prenatal influence would give her an advantage in life. In addition to this, daddy also sang to her, Scripture verses he had put to song. We wanted to give her the best possible advantage in the ‘game of life’, knowing she’d be the only one.
Jonah and the Whale; Daniel and the Lions. As we came across these two books, we decided to acquire them and start reading these precious stories to our little daughter. Oh! What a joy, as we read again and again these stories to Brianna. After a number of times, she memorized the story line and began to “pretend” reading it herself, flipping through the pages as she went. With the passing of time, she knew what was said on every page, though she yet couldn’t read it.
In those early days, she probably flipped through the storyline of these books dozens of times. But by the age of five, her ability to start grasping the pronunciation of simple words, gave her increased desire to learn more words. In that year, she mastered simple sentences and was able to read these books you see here, all by herself.
Before long she was reading these books over and over again, along with other books. But these two were probably at the top of the list for how many times she read any book. Eventually, as you can see, the books wore out, falling apart and Brianna’s mother had to ‘fix’, or should I say, staple the pages together. Looking back at her fifth and sixth year, she probably read these two books—story of Jonah and Daniel and the Lions, about 500 times.
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So what lessons are there to learn from this experience? These are two of the great stories of the Bible which have tremendous lessons for us living in the closing up of this world’s history. They both teach the importance of simple trust in God, even when you are thrown overboard and swallowed up by a whale or cast into a den of lions. God used both these men to do what no other sinner ever did—Jonah, evangelizing an entire city of half a million people and the whole city repents, through the convicting power of God in Jonah’s preaching; Daniel, who became second in command in the greatest empire of its day, Babylon. Through his influence, the King Nebuchadnezzar was converted and Daniel, due to his faithfulness was given visions of the greatest time prophecy in the Scripture, along with prophecies of the great nations of the world which would last till the end of time.
What a privilege to read these stories to our children. One lesson for parents is to train their children to become acquainted with the great stories of the Bible. We should teach them how God delivered these biblical characters and that He will deliver those who put their trust in Him. Most importantly, we should show forth the love of Jesus in our homes to our children, so that as they grow up they will choose to enter into that ‘love relationship’ with Jesus.
There are times Mary and I recount these memories and wonder what would have become of Brianna had the events of that tragic day been different. But God knew that even in her life had she lived, she would not impact souls as much as has been impacted by her death. One day soon, she will be called to life again, not encumbered with the old fallen nature, but a new glorified body in that special resurrection which Daniel the prophet testifies of in the last chapter of his book.
Oh friend, we hope that this trip into our past will inspire you a little more to look forward to that great reunion Day—the reception of “That Eternal Life”2 will assure it. What a glorious day it will be. Then you will be able to meet the girl who had a ‘whale of time’ reading these childhood books again and again. Even more importantly, you will be fit to meet the One who is “The Resurrection and the Life.”
Until then, thank you for your time and prayers, in our suffering recovery process.
2. 1 John 1:2