Stay in the Land

In 1988, my pastor asked and also challenged the membership of the church to read The One Year Bible, (TOYB).  I was one of about 10-12 people who agreed to the commitment.  I was already in the habit of reading the New Testament almost every day, but I had never read the entire Bible cover-to-cover.

My father was a wonderful example and moral compass…I watched him read the Bible every day.  Because of his example and the request of my pastor, I began reading TOYB in January, 1989.  During that year, I carried the Bible with me to Israel where I attended the Israeli paratrooper school, to Mexico , and then to Panama and Peru .  After completing TOYB the first year, I decided to read it again and have been doing so for 15 years.

The cover of my One Year Bible is faded and worn.  Many of the pages are “dog-eared.”  After 15 years of study, almost every chapter of every book has passages that are underlined or high-lighted.  The Bible is well-traveled…I carried it to many nations of the world; to Jamaica in 1990, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in 1991, Turkey in 1992, China in 1993 and to Panama and Israel in 1995.

In 1999, my job at the hospital became very difficult.  One of the three staff physicians in the department moved to the University, due in part to a significant salary disparity between the University and the VA.  The chief of the department turned in his retirement papers, leaving me alone to do the work of three.  To complicate the situation, I learned about a similar VA position, in Arkansas , that offered a greater salary.  Although I felt a deep loyalty to the veteran patient in Columbia , I decided to look at the position.

My wife, Vicki, and I had significant reservations about moving.  Vicki’s three greatest concerns were leaving Columbia and the farm she loved;  leaving close friends and a  wonderful church family;  and her greatest concern, finding the right Christian school for our son, Josh.  From the very beginning, she told me she was willing to do whatever I needed to do.

We took a weekend trip and traveled to visit the hospital.  Our first stop was at a Christian school…what an amazing school.  The students were friendly, they seemed happy, and the academic and athletic programs were excellent.  Walking away from the school, Vicki felt an immediate release, a burden lifted.  Her prayers answered, the concern and the worry were now part of the past.  The school was more than acceptable..

We visited the VA, spoke with and had lunch with the Director and staff, and spent the weekend visiting a church and looking at the town.  It seemed like the possibility of a move would be a “good fit” for me and for the family.  To make the offer even more attractive, the VA would pay for our move and even purchase our home if we were unable to sell it.  I was offered the position of Chief of the department and a significant increase in salary.

We returned home and immediately began to seek the will of God for our lives.  We prayed, we fasted, and we sought God’s direction in His word.  We also asked friends and church family to pray for direction and help to make the right decision.  The Director of the hospital asked that I make a decision by mid-October.

After work on the evening of October 14th, (coincidentally, my mother’s birthday), I started my daily reading in TOYB.  The reading began in Jeremiah, the 23rd-25th chapters.  When I read Jeremiah 25:5…I stopped. I read the verse again, then again.  The verse read, “dwell in the land that the Lord hath given you and to your fathers for ever and ever.”  I had read that same chapter, that same verse, on my mother’s birthday for 10 years…in 1999, the verse had a much deeper and more personal meaning.

The next morning I called the Director of the hospital in Arkansas and declined the offer.  I went to the Director and Chief-of-Staff of the hospital in Columbia , and told them that I was not going to move.  I  also informed them that the University had offered me a job but that I would prefer to remain at the VA.  I was asked to stay and was offered the identical salary of the VA we had visited.  The Director and the Chief-of-Staff also made a commitment to fill the open staff physician positions in the department.

Humanly, as I look at the importance of study and learning,  I am reminded of the wonderful advice for life by General Lloyd “Fig” Newton,  in A Gathering of Eagles.  The advice is, “Always strive to learn something new.  If we are not learning something new each day, we should consider it an incomplete day.

Spiritually, as I reflect on the importance of studying the Word and learning something new every day, I am reminded that God speaks to us when we read His word.   There are times when the Scriptures will help us make a decision that will keep us in the will and the plan of God.

Do you read the Bible every day?  Would you consider reading The One Year Bible?  God might have a passage for you that will change your life!

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two- edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”  Heb: 4:12

In Psalm 119:105, we read, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path,” and again in Psalm 119, verse 11, we read; “Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee.”