Monday, March 20, 2006

A Forever Treasure


"Girls, let me tell you something," my mom said tonight at dinner at my sister Sylvia’s house. I’m on a quick trip to Kentucky to visit my mom, who is 89, and all four of us sisters have gathered–Sheila and Sylvia, who live in the area, and Sandy, who drove down from Michigan. Mom looked at each of us in turn. "I need to start cleaning out some of the books that were your daddy’s. I don’t want to get sick or have something happen to me, and then I don’t have the energy to do it. So while you’re all together, I want you to look at the book cabinet in his study and take whatever books you want–both those he wrote and others he collected."

My father, J.T. Seamands, died at 87 in August of 2004. He was a preacher, an evangelist, a missionary to India with Mom for 20 years. A seminary professor of missions. An author of 13 books, translated in I don’t know how many languages. A speaker of numerous languages himself–three Indian dialects, German, Spanish–all of which he preached in. A world traveler many times over. A singer, trombonist, and tennis player (he played until he was 80).

Upon returning to Mom’s house after dinner, I headed for the bookshelf. The first book I spotted was Daddy’s Bible. Red leather bound, gold-edged pages. The Revised Standard Version. I pulled it from the shelf.

You can see a lot about a person from looking through his Bible. I started flipping through pages, noting what he had underlined. Daddy had various papers stuck inside. The first, a three-page outline of his sermon about the creation and Abraham and redemption:
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1. Genesis 1 and 2. God created the universe and human kind. He said "it is good." All that God does is good.

2. Genesis 3. Adam and Eve sinned, and sin entered the world. God’s plan of redemption begins immediately. See Gen. 3:15.
Two chapters are given to the fall of humankind; the rest of Scripture is the record of God’s redemptive acts in history . . .
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I flipped further, into the Psalms, and pulled out a half-sheet of yellow notebook paper, faded and worn thin. Upon it, green ink in a difficult-to-read script:

Dear Darling J.T., this is goodbye. I am going up to live with Jesus. Be a good boy. Your little Sylvia is so sweet. Always stick to the Old Book and meet me. Love from Grandma.

A note written by Mom underneath: Grandma Shields wrote this after a severe heart attack just two weeks before she passed away–Nov. 14, 1943.

In 1943 World War II was raging. Mom had come home from India in June 1942 with her first baby, Sylvia, because of the danger overseas. Daddy had decided to stay and finish some missions work, thinking he could get on a boat for the U.S. before long. He and Mom would never have dreamed that the war would separate them for two and a half years, until December of 1944. During that time, Mom and baby Sylvia lived with Daddy’s Grandma Shields.

In Isaiah I found more sermon notes. One outline covers the front and back of a bank deposit slip, written in red ink, small cursive letters. Another outline is typed on half a sheet of paper–The Hands of Jesus. John 20:24-29:
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1. Saving hands: Matthew 14:29-31. Then Peter got down out of the boat and walked on the water to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me." Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.

2. Cleansing hands: Matthew 3:11-12. I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering the wheat into his barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

3. Protecting hands: John 10:28. My sheep listen to my voice. I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.

4. Healing hands: Mark 1:40-42. A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, "If you are willing you can make me clean." Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said, "Be clean." Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured.

5. Wounded hands: John 20:27. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe. See my hands!

6. Knocking hands: Revelation 3:20. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
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In the back of the Bible Daddy wrote many other sermon outlines–just the quick note and sometimes the text. He used alliteration and rhythm frequently as a way to make his sermons easy to remember. Just a few of them:
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Verbalize, vocalize, visualize, vitalize=holiness. Ephesians 5:18-20.

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I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
Without the Way there is no going.
Without the Truth there is no knowing.
Without the Life there is no growing.
Christ, who art the Way, lead us.
Christ, who art the Truth, teach us.
Christ who art the Life, continue to live in us.

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No reservation, reversal, regrets=consecration, surrender. The Eternal Word for the Entire World.
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Loss of faith is usually not a blow-out, but a slow leak.
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I have found a forever treasure. My Daddy’s Bible.

10 comments:

margie said...

I, too, have my daddy's Bible, Brandilyn. Like your father, he was a missionary (Peru, Mexico) and an evangelist and church planter. And there are sermon notes scattered throughout his Bible. And it's a wonderful treasure. What a blessed heritage to have and to share :).

Margie

Jennifer Tiszai said...

What a treasure! And what a wonderful family legacy, kind of like a spiritual scrapbook. Thanks for sharing that with us.

Cara Putman said...

What a blessing. His notes brought tears to my eyes and reminded me of the great spiritual heritage I have to. We are blessed to have inherited the faith of our fathers and grandfathers and then made it our own.

Ruth said...

This is an absolutely beautiful post - thank you for sharing your sweet daddy's wisdom & memories.

Domino said...

You have a real treasure.

Reminds me of when my husband's mom died a couple of years ago. He found her Bibles and his great-grandmother's Bible. They weren't evangelists, but strong godly women who taught the young ones about God. So, really, they were family evangelists.

They underlined verses and wrote notes in many places in their Bibles. It's amazing how much you find out about a person after they go home - sometimes just by reading their Bible.

Kjersten said...

Thanks for sharing Brandilyn!
God bless you lady!

LaShaunda said...

What a beautiful memento of you father. Maybe one day you can pass it on to your daughter.

D. Gudger said...

Beautiful!

Bonnie Calhoun said...

What a fabulous treasure! God has truly blessed you with this reminder of your father!

Martha W. Rogers said...

Oh, what a treasure. I had my grandmother's Bible and read her notes and comments many times. What a beautiful remembrance of your wonderful dad. What a blessing.