In this debut book, a selection of favorite Bible verses sheds light on various emotions, problems, and periods of life.
Ratcliff’s work is the outgrowth of something many Christians have experienced: the hours and hours spent paging through the Bible searching for a particular verse or passage or hunting for sections on a specific topic or theme. This volume is the author’s own version of an answer to this: It’s essentially a commonplace book of biblical passages arranged by subject and lightly dusted with personal commentary. The topic headings are concepts that will be familiar to most Christians. They frequently have about them the feel of an old-time prayer book, and they don’t shy away from the more exacting aspects of Christianity. Examining “suffering,” for instance, Ratcliff prefaces her assortment of quotations with ruminations on the subject. “Since Jesus suffered for us, we should also be patient and suffer so that we won’t fail to please God,” she writes. “For if we have suffered in the flesh, then we have quit sinning on purpose and we have stopped pleasing ourselves and the world, and we live to please the Lord.” This same stern, pre–Vatican II tone is struck in her introduction to the grouping of quotes under “Fear of the Lord”: “God’s word is His rule book and there are a lot of benefits to obeying it. The fear of the Lord means to reverence Him, to worship Him, and to be in awe of Him.” Likewise, there are assembled verses warning against backsliding, cursing, drinking, boasting, slandering, and so on. But Ratcliff is careful to balance these with more positive, affirming excerpts about heavenly love, forgiveness, and support, and the lasting impression of her own reflections is one of the restorative power of faith—and the inspiring influence of Scripture. Christian readers and prayer groups should find this collection an invaluable aid, as will believers who are a bit tired of looking for that one crucial passage.
A thoughtfully themed guided tour through Christian Scripture, a kind of keyword search executed with compassionate elaboration.