By Richard Mabey Jr.
In early September of 1965, I turned 12 and started seventh grade. About two weeks after school started, I found myself in the old Barnett Hospital in Paterson, New Jersey with a serious case of rheumatic fever. The infection had attacked my heart. For the next year of my life, my feet never touched the ground, I was required to have strict bed rest. I was in and out of the hospital about four times that year.
One of the most vital contributions to my healing, I truly believe, did not come from a doctor of any kind. Rather, an important element of my healing came from my dad sharing words of faith with me, each and every night.
After he finished eating supper, Dad would climb the fifteen steps to my upstairs bedroom. No matter how tired he was from his day’s hard work, he would sit in the wooden chair beside my bed and talk to me. Often he would talk about his work, Dad worked as a long-distance truck driver. Also, Dad would give me updates on what was happening in Boy Scout Troop 170. My dad served as the troop’s Scoutmaster for well over 30 years. But most importantly, I remember how my dear father would take the time to read the Bible to me.
Dad would purposely choose chapters in the Bible that dealt with the subjects of healing, faith, and examples of how the good Lord helped people overcome insurmountable odds. I can still remember seeing my dad read the Bible to me. I remember how a lock of Dad’s red hair may have curled onto his forehead, Dad’s voice may have been tired from his day’s work, or Dad might have struggled with the lighting of the lamp next to my bed. But most of all, I remember how sincere and earnest my dear father was, during those many nights that he read the Bible to me.
Dear to my heart, to this day, is the memory of how Dad would reverently close my Bible and place it on the table beside my bed. Then, my father would say to me, “Richie, don’t worry, you’re going to be alright. The good Lord’s going to heal you.”
I try my best to read the Bible every day. Today, when I read the Bible, I can still hear the echo of my father’s voice. The remembrance of Dad’s sincerity, his earnest quality, still abides in my heart.
I know that this might be a bit controversial, especially to my fellow Christian friends. But, when all the dust has settles, I don’t think the good Lord cares what faith you subscribe to, nor what denomination you are, nor which house of worship it is that you pray and seek solace with the Lord. No, when all is said and done, I think that what is most important is the love that abides in your heart for the Lord, the love you hold for other people, the love you have for the animals of this planet, and the love you abide for your very own self.