The Family Bible

Many 19th Century British families owned a family Bible. At the front or back, there was often some space to record important events in the family: births, marriages, and deaths. Sometimes people also recorded these in their own personal Bibles, and I own one that belonged to a lady called Catherine Towe. This Bible was presented to her by her Sunday School in 1829, when she was 16 years old. 

She kept it for her whole life, recording the death of her mother, her marriage, the birth (and death) of her children, and the death of her father. It became for her a record of what had happened in her life. For a woman of faith like her, it was also a personal reminder of how God had helped her through the good times and the bad, and was indeed always with her. For her, God wasn’t just active in the lives of the people in the Bible, but in her life too. She wanted to remember that, when she remembered God.

There is a Psalm that encourages us to remember what God has done: 

I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your wonders of old (Psalm 77:11).

Remembering gives us faith that what He has done before, He can do again. At the end of this same Psalm, the writer recalls that for the children of Israel waiting to cross the Red Sea, they had to trust that God was with them, even when they couldn’t see where he was leading them:

Your way was through the sea, your path through the great waters; yet your footprints were unseen (v. 19).

When Catherine was given her new Bible In 1829, the family pages were blank. The great events of her life were yet to happen; she had no idea what would come. We don’t know what’s coming next week for us, do we? But Catherine had faith that God would lead and guide her, whatever happened. He knew, although she did not. It’s always good to look back at your life and remember what God has done for you – whether in the back of your Bible, or just in your own memory. It’s also good to remember that God knows our future, and will continue to help us, if we trust Him.

Paul Tovell

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