by Betty Koop
There he sat! Around him his children were playing noisily, hungry for supper, but he sat at the table, totally absorbed in what he was reading. That was my father, Abe P. Unger, reading his Bible.
After a long, hard day at work, on his feet for most of the day, he was finally able to sit down. And what better way to find peace than in the Word; no doubt he was hungry for his supper, but he was even hungrier to see what his Lord had to say.
Today we would say: why didn’t he go and help his wife in the kitchen instead of sitting there, waiting for supper to appear? Well, in my Dad’s case, that might have been a disaster, since he was “cooking-challenged”! I’m sure Mom was quite happy for him to stay out of her way.
That is one of my most vivid memories of my childhood. Oh yes, he also got down on the floor and we’d ride around on his back as he played with us; or he’d reach deep down into the pocket of his outdoor jacket and find a small bag of candy to share. But his love for the Word is indelibly imprinted in my memory.
Another game he played with us was getting us to challenge him on his memorization of the Gospel of John. He had painstakingly printed all of the verses of this gospel on little square cards. These he took to work with him every day.
My Dad worked as a cheese maker and won many red ribbons and trophies for the excellent product that the Landmark Cheese Factory produced during his tenure as manager. But he didn’t spend much time sitting behind a desk.
One of his duties was stirring the milk in the huge rectangular vats as it was turned into cheese with the precise addition of the curdling agent; when it thickened, he began cutting it into long slivers. This was after he’d taste-tested the milk brought by the farmers to make sure none had an unpleasant taste from certain weeds the cows might have ingested.
This operation entailed a lot of walking, back and forth, around and around. To occupy his mind, he decided to memorize the Gospel of John. Cards were placed at each end of the vat, and he kept repeating them, noting the exact reference. One sister remembers a Bible on a nearby table.
A game he played with us was to ask us to pick any card, call out the reference and then check if he was reciting it correctly. I don’t remember ever tripping him up, although it may have happened.
This love for the Scriptures, and his emphasis on accuracy when teaching or preaching stayed with him all his life. He influenced many with his way of bringing the Bible stories to life when he spoke. People actually listened and remembered!
Where are we when it comes to loving and reading and living God’s Word?