There is a quote from Mark Twain that reads, "The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why." These are pretty powerful words! They have captivated my thoughts since I first heard this quote four days ago. I was surprised as I waited intently to what "day" would follow the day we were born, Day No. 2. It would have to be quite life-transforming. And I wasn't disappointed.
I believe the Lord has a plan and a purpose for each of us. It is not something we can go find on a treasure hunt, but can be found out by reading and applying God's Word in our lives. I learned as a young girl that God and the words He speaks (the Bible) have power and authority, and can change my life every day. I learned that there was not a question or circumstance God didn't have an answer for, and it's been true for me.
We have five senses: sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. Each one of them is critical in our everyday life. We use at least one of our five senses every moment of every day, and they are on duty even when we are asleep. We see with our eyes, we smell with our noses, we listen with our ears, we taste with our tongue and we touch with our skin. Our brain receives signals from each of these organs and interprets them to give us a sense of what's happening around us.
And God's Word can be experienced through each of these senses.
I can remember the first time I heard that Jesus loved me. My mom had accepted Jesus at a Billy Graham crusade in San Francisco, and she took us to church (where my brother and I got to experience Sunday school). It was there I heard songs, began learning His Word and started memorizing verses that went along with our lessons. Buy it was my mom who took advantage of an opportunity where I was being disciplined and had to go outside to "think about it." But it was cold and foggy, and I was without a jacket or sweater. So I tried to sneak back into the house, but all of the windows and doors were locked except for the kitchen window above the sink (and out of my reach). What's a 5-year-old girl to do?
So I saw an opportunity with that open window. I started to sing every song I remembered from Sunday school. I started low, then got increasingly louder. I am sure it was not sweet and angelic at all. I got loud! At one point, my mom leaned into the window, and seeing me through the screen, told me to get in the house. Mission accomplished—I was going inside!
When I came inside through the kitchen, she touched my hand with one of hers. She was holding her black leather Bible in the other. She directed us to the kitchen table. She opened that very special book. It had her name engraved in gold on the front cover, and inside were many pages that showed underlined verses. I remember seeing her read this book in the mornings. I had seen her hold it up to her chest, eyes closed, and in tears at other times. And now as she opened it, she began to show me words I couldn't read yet, but I watched her finger as she read each word.
She told me of God's love for me; she told me that my sin (like this morning) made Jesus go to the cross to die for me so that God's punishment for sin was taken care of. She shared that Jesus came back to life and wanted to live in my life each and every day of it. She shared that the life Jesus would give me would be the best for me because Jesus knew me by name. She then touched my hand, and with her pointer finger, she touched my thumb and all my fingers while saying one word per digit—she said before touching them, "Linda, Jesus says this to you every day of your life: 'I will never leave you."
That's the first Scripture (Heb. 13:5b) I ever heard Jesus say to me. She said, "Look at your hand anytime you feel alone, abandoned, scared or happy. These words I am putting into your heart today. Do you want to invite Him into your life?"
"Oh yes, then God would be with me! That's really cool."
I followed her to her bedroom, where her unmade bed became a holy place, and we knelt beside it and we talked to God. July 23 at 10 in the morning—that's the day that I learned the second part of Mark Twain's quote. I was born to be His child—two birthdays. A lifetime of leaning into God and Him loving and guiding me.
Following that moment, I asked my mom if I could have a Bible like hers with my name engraved in gold. She said, "Sure, I will gladly give you that Bible with gold letters spelling your name for your birthday, but you will need to memorize 50 verses."
"Fifty verses?" I exclaimed. "I'm only 5 years old, " I quickly reminded her.
"Linda, I know you can do this," my mom reassured me. "You know some verses already, and you can ask your Sunday school teacher to help you too."
I embraced the challenge and received my first Bible with my very own name engraved in gold letters on the cover when I was 6 years old. I remember the smell as I opened the cover of the box where the Bible was placed. I remember bringing it close to my face. I remember my eyes closed, trying to take it all in. This was mine. God's Word was going to be mine. My love for God's Word began in earnest on that day.
All I had to do was taste it. I had to reach in and open His Word. Read them. Digest them. Apply them to my brain and my heart. Have it fill every part of my being: my decisions, my choices, my attitudes, my loves and then have it spoken into others with the same passion I received on that afternoon. "Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him" (Ps. 34:8).
What's your sense today?
A teacher, pastor, missionary, storyteller and adventurer, Linday Vannoy-Castillo is passionate about glorifying God and helping people find purpose in Him. She's a San Francisco Bay Area native who enjoys sporting colorful hair and riding motorcycles. Linda currently serves as the director of ministry at Praying Pelican Missions. Learn more about Linda and her adventures at castilloadventures.com.
This article is an excerpt from Linda's book, Live Without Borders, Chapter 3, "Today Makes Us Ready for Tomorrow."
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