By Kathy Carlton Willis
Growing up in church, but not in Christ, I had a vague knowledge of the Bible, but had no idea what treasure was buried in the Word. It was at a “God and Church” Girl Scouts class that I first learned of King James—the Bible, not the man. At the time, I decided that version must be too antiquated for me to really understand or even relate to my 20th century situations. My Sunday School teacher had given me Good News for Modern Man and I figured that was more appropriate reading material. Only—I never read it.
I came to a life-changing faith in Jesus Christ as a teenager, and attended a church that used the King James Version of the Bible as its biblical reference. The pastor encouraged church members to read their copy of the Word for themselves—they even highlighted meaningful passages and brought their Bibles to worship. This focus on the supremacy of the Word of God was all new to me. I realized God’s Word had the power to impact people for change—not just others, but me.
Where could I get my hands on a KJV Bible so I could follow along and learn for myself? I recalled seeing a black book with a crumbly bonded leather cover filled with parched yellowed paper stashed away in one of Mom’s dresser drawers. After I unburied my find, I cracked the cover. The pages smelled of an older time, when people lived by God’s Laws and those red words really mattered. Best of all, my newfound treasure traveled to church perched in my arms, where I learned new principles every time I attended services—at least twice a week.
My future father-in-love taught me how to memorize Bible verses. I wrote down passages that helped me grow as a believer. On one side of the note card I wrote the address (book of the Bible, chapter and verse). On the opposite side I wrote the verse—word for word. Then, just like memorizing flash cards for school, I focused on each word until I could recite it without peeking. Oh the power of those words! Bad habits and ungodly traits were eradicated by recalling scripture. Positive characteristics blossomed as the Bible planted new seeds in my life. The Girl Scout who thought the KJV Bible was too old-fashioned to apply to the 1970s was wrong! And the naysayers who said young people couldn’t understand the difficult passages of the KJV didn’t know what they were talking about either. The same Holy Spirit in adults lived in me and shined light on the Word so I could understand—illuminated my heart and mind with biblical wisdom.
Imagine my excitement when I discovered I could try to win a brand new Bible! Our church hosted a revival and encouraged us to invite our friends and family to attend. A guest preacher came for the week, and he offered the KJV Open Bible to the winner of a pack-a-pew contest. Pack-a-What? As soon as someone explained the concept to me, I was all over it. Each friend received an invitation to be my personal guest. I gave my best passionate plea for them to help me win my own Bible. Did I mention I was student council president? I had friends—I knew people. And they knew I was serious about this Bible stuff!
We counted heads. There was Sandra, and Dale and others. Hip-to-hip, we literally packed the pew. Each name represented a heart—each head represented a friend. At the end of the revival the pastor called me to the front to present me with my brand new Bible, chock-full of tools and resources.
I learned how to study the Bible and allowed it to make a difference in my life. I did word searches, biographical studies, book studies. I looked for Bible characters who had similar heart desires and struggles. I learned how to use one of my Bible memory cards as a straightedge to underline the verses that most impacted me for ready reference. Soon my newfound faith, my newfound treasure, led to newfound opportunities to share my story with others.
Debbie struggled with a bad home life. She cried a lot at school. Others picked on her and she cowered in the shadows, trying to go unnoticed—willing away the heartache. God spotlighted her from the corner of my eye, and I befriended her. I shared my story with her—how God made a difference in my life. She wanted to reach out to this Jesus who rescued me. Nothing would do but for me to share with her the power behind the message—God’s Word. My first KJV Bible went home with Debbie that day.
I started Bible College as a young Christian. The other students had studied God’s Word for years—it was still new to me. I struggled with learning the new language—Christianese. Terminology confused me. In one class we discussed the depravity of man. Only I didn’t know what the word “depraved” meant. It sounded a lot like “deprived.” Were we discussing the impoverished? No, the professor expounded on the sin nature of mankind.
The Bible came to me as a treasure, but it also delivered history, poetry, and psychology. It came with the power to change. As a writer I recognized these words were supernatural compared to other penned words. I realized the difference was in the source. They were God-breathed. Therein lies the power!
I use many translations now, but the beauty of the KJV still stirs my heart. This 400-year-old treasure remains relevant today as only God’s Word can—timeless truths from a timeless God.
Kathy Carlton Willis shines, whether she’s shining the light on God’s writers and speakers, or reflecting God’s Light during her speaking programs. Learn more about Kathy at http://www.kathycarltonwillis.com/.
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