“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)
The most precious gift my parents ever gave me? That’s easy—it is the love of reading. My earliest memories were filled with books and magazines. Don’t get me wrong they did not force me to read. But they made sure I was surrounded by reading materials.
Pretty soon I learned that reading is fun. That I can travel around the world without leaving our house (and without spending a dime!). That I can even travel in time as I read history unfolds. That I can live the lives of great men as I read their biographies. And that I can overcome boredom by a crackling good novel on a stormy day.
Now, I can’t live without books. I read when traveling, I read in my spare time, and yes even in the bathroom (disclaimer: this may have unwanted side effects!). I must confess I am a “reading-coholic”.
Later in life, I realized that part of whatever success I have could be traced to the love of reading. Most importantly, when I became a Christian, God used a number of godly books to shape my ideas and life. For example, amongst my early readings were books by the Puritans and the old masters like CH Spurgeon and Jonathan Edwards. They challenged me how to live before a sovereign, holy and loving God. Quite recently, I have been blessed by the works of John Piper, Michael Horton, and Sinclair Ferguson, among others. As a preacher, I did not have any formal Bible school training. I had to read a lot of books so that I will grow as a Christian and as a preacher.
Near the end of his life, it is amazing that one of the things Paul requested (aside from his cloak for winter) were his books. I am sure the great apostle was a reader all his life.
We can give many things to our kids. But I hope we wont forget that most important gift—the love for reading.