My first Bible was very fancy—white leather cover, gold-edged pages, with everything Jesus said appearing in red. Like every 12-year-old in our church, I went through confirmation and was rewarded with my own Bible. I don’t remember thinking this was a big deal, except that I had to stand in front of the congregation to receive the Bible and answer a question posed by our preacher: “Dandi, what do you believe God can do for you for the rest of your life?” With very little thought and even less understanding, I tweaked President Kennedy’s famous line and answered: “I try not to ask what God can do for me, but what I can do for God.” Obviously, I’d never read the Bible!
I didn’t come to know Christ until I was a sophomore in college. I’d tagged along with a few of my sorority sisters to a campus meeting, where they claimed I’d meet the entire Mizzou football team. The speaker talked about grace and read from the Bible a verse I’d never heard before, a verse that shot down my whole theory about “what I could do for God.” I’d always counted on getting to heaven on my good works, but Ephesians 2:8-9 cut through my mind and heart: For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. (NASB)
We walked back to our sorority house, and I went straight to my room, wishing I had a Bible so I could look up that verse on my own. Still, the words kept repeating in my head: . . . by grace . . . through faith . . . the gift of God . . . not as result of works. . . . I prayed, and for the first time, I understood why Christ had to die, why I needed his forgiveness, why I needed him.
The next day, I was standing on the doorstep of the campus bookstore the second it opened. I bought myself a Bible, though it never occurred to me that there were different versions. I purchased the cheapest Bible they had, stuffed it into a brown bag, and headed to the little chapel on campus, which proved to be open, but empty. Hoping to start with page one and work my way through, I flipped pages, looking for Genesis. But the first book in my new Bible was Matthew. No wonder my Bible had been the cheapest—they’d left out the whole Old Testament.
In the following weeks, I lived the life of a Secret Service Christian, hiding my New Testament under my bed so my sorority sisters wouldn’t think I’d gone off the deep end. I got up early and pretended I had an early class. Instead, I read my Bible in the little empty chapel.
When I finally decided not to hide my Bible or my faith, I joined a Bible study. Looking back, I remember being blown away by the Scriptures. Each time we met, I’d rattle on and on about my “discoveries,” things the other Christians in our group had known for years. Yet they acted as if they were hearing everything for the first time too.
Life changed for me from the moment I bought that Bible. By the time I graduated from Mizzou, I was leading Bible studies. And I knew I wanted to be a missionary. Now, all these years later, I’m still blown away by God’s Word. I’m so grateful that I have the privilege of helping relate the Bible in fresh ways to children of all ages.
By Dandi Daley Mackall
Dandi Daley Mackall is the award-winning author of over 450 books for children and adults, including the My Bible Animals Storybook, and the One Year Bible Animal Devotional. She visits countless schools, conducts writing assemblies and workshops across the United States, and presents keynote addresses at conferences and young author events. She is also a frequent guest on radio talk shows and has made dozens of appearances on TV. She has won several awards for her writing, including the Helen Keating Ott Award for Contributions to Children’s Literature, the Edgar Award, and a two-time Mom’s Choice Award winner. Dandi writes from rural Ohio, where she lives with her husband, Joe, their three children, and their horses, dogs, and cats. Learn more HERE >>