When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments. 2 Timothy 4:13 (ESV)
Now here is a kindred spirit: Paul is writing his protégé Timothy from prison, and apparently, the younger man is coming for a visit. So Paul tells him that when he does finally hit the road, he should be sure to bring three things: first, a cloak he lent to Carpus (Roman prisons can be cold), books, and then, especially, the parchments.
So, aside from wanting to be warm in prison, Paul wanted something to read.
As for me, my first love for books was of the comic variety. Sometime after 2nd or 3rd grade I began to purchase comic books at Reeves Drug store in downtown Antioch, Illinois. Action Comics, Superman, Batman, etc. I know that you non-comic readers probably think this a very juvenile appreciation, and I actually was pretty young, but I did read them through high school, and loved them. My dad had been a comic book fan in his day, and while Mom thought they were a waste of money, in contrast Dad would often ask me if he could read them after I was finished. So I can be thankful for Mom trying to teach me thrift, and for Dad…well, just thankful for Dad.
In English class during 6th or 7th grade, I remember being able to order books, along with a cool kids mag called “Dynamite!” Oh, the days when the box of books would arrive and we could take our beloved possessions home. Perhaps it was here that I began to love my books. And it developed quickly. In high school, visiting in my room one day, my good buddy Ed joked that I had a book on every subject imaginable. Not quite…but it would have been nice.
Then I became a Christian in 1982, and I discovered the Great Book. Oh my. A book of God’s words! Could there be anything greater? Answer: No, not at all. And on a lesser but happy note, it was at this same time that I discovered there was actually something called a “Christian book store”. No way. This was glorious. I had passed by “religious book stores” in my pre-Christian days, but they were largely invisible. Now I got it: a whole bookstore devoted to Jesus. And they had Petra and Amy Grant records too. Life was good.
And then God called me to full-time vocational ministry. This was clearly one of his great kindnesses to me. I don’t know if you know this, but a lot of churches give their pastors what is called a book allowance. It’s true here: every year at Edgewood, they give me more money to buy more books. You should be me.
My latest joy in books was discovered 3 or 4 years ago when I happened onto Audible books. I had listened to books before, of course, but never so conveniently with an app on the phone. Now I could literally read almost all the time (bike rides, showering, doing the dishes, etc). My kids were home for Labor Day weekend, and I drove them back to college Monday night. After saying goodbye, it was just me and three hours of highway, during which I enjoyed good time with my latest “listen”: Exodus by Leon Uris, historical fiction about the establishment of a Jewish homeland. No wasted time, just joy.
So all this is to say that I appreciate Paul’s desires, and I would concur. And if you ever hear that I’ve been locked up (hopefully for preaching the gospel and not grand theft auto), and you’re coming for a visit, well you know…don’t come empty handed.
Tomorrow: Thursday, September 10th: Titus 1