This is part two of a three-part series. How do parents and children read the Bible together? How does faith at home make a difference in difficult times? Yesterday we heard the mother’s story from Sandra Montes. Today we hear from her now-adult son, Ellis Reyes Montes. Tomorrow we will read a shared post about their experience of Hurricane Harvey.
Please keep the Montes family and their neighbors in your prayers as they live the Houston area and are active in the recovery effort. – Ed.
I have read through the Bible, cover to cover, probably three times so far. Were any of those times easy? Certainly not. But, each time has been a great experience for me.
I must admit, I am quite familiar with the book of Genesis because I have made many attempts in the past to read through the Bible starting and ending there. But, reading through Genesis isn’t just about my previous attempts. Many of the stories in Genesis take me back to my very early childhood, to my dad’s apartment I would visit every other weekend. I didn’t have many books there, but he had many biblical storybooks. I remember reading about Noah and the ark just before bedtime, and then my dad would turn on my nightlight—Noah’s ark, with the animals peeking out of the windows.
Making my way through more of the Old Testament also brings me to an important fascination in my life: the Hebrew language. Many Hebrew words would pop up while reading. Ha-arets—the Earth. They sound so alike. Every time that I encounter the tetragrammaton, the LORD in many translations (or even DIOS), I remember the YHWH. Jehová—the name used by Latin Christian songwriters. Their songs are the ones I grew up playing and singing in church, back when I was a member of Iglesia Episcopal San Mateo.
Of course, church music also brings me to the book of Psalms. I know many psalms by heart, or at least verses, only in Spanish, since I sang and played them so many times, with my mom’s voice usually coming to the fore, my cousin’s guitar playing above my meager keyboard notes. Another set of memories about the Psalms is from my time as a vacation Bible school teacher. We memorized so many psalm verses—which is why I know many of them in Spanish first—in the classrooms built after having been demolished because they weren’t up to code. The scent of the already dry paint lingers in “El Señor es mi pastor,” or, “Cuán dulces son a mi paladar tus palabras.”
A little further in the Old Testament brings up a story that was very out of the ordinary for me, and one that I tried to get familiar with. The story of Elijah commanding a bear to maul others brings me back to when I would sit down with my mom, reading from a devotional. We made sure to read one every night, and we had many special bonding moments. I remember laughing with some; crying with many others. They were very interesting conversations we would have with each other.
Conversation is an important aspect of my faith, and that is something that carries me through the rest of the Bible. It is something that makes Jesus so great. It’s also what makes the Gospels so important to our family. The words of Jesus come out in the way my Abuelito has read them. Jesus also speaks to me through the messages I have heard from my mom, Abuelito, Abuelita, Tío, and the rest of my family. Not only do the words from the sanctuary ring out. We have discussed and debated these words at the Thanksgiving table.
In addition to having the conversations about these things with my family, I have also had the conversation about biblical passages with myself. While the words of Jesus usually inspire me, I have had many problems with the words of Paul. I have to wonder, why do so many people fall short of the glory of God? Why will so many people face damnation? Why does Jesus invite, but Paul repel? Of course, there are many verses of encouragement that also come from Paul’s pen, but the curses have really made me sit down and think and pray.
The fears and thinking don’t stop at the letters. The book of Revelations was very difficult for me to read the first time. I remember being so scared that I couldn’t sleep, and I had to read the book in the hallway outside my room. But, coming back to it from the perspective of the whole of God’s word, I started to find the hope and promises in the book. I’ve read it a few times now, and I have talked it over with my mom. It is growing on me, just like the Bible has.
As a person who is usually reluctant to take pictures, the Bible really functions as a keeper of memories for me. Every single word has an event from my life tied into it, and I know that there will only be more memories with this living, breathing text.
How is the Bible a keeper of memories for you? How has it changed you?