The fourth word on the page

Confession: This past Sunday morning I was trying to impress my Sunday school kids with how smart God is.

He knows how many hairs are on your head, I said, even counting the ones that fell out while you were brushing them this morning.

He knows how many leaves are on that tree.

He knows what’s going to happen next.

He knows what you’re thinking inside your mind, whether or not you’re listening to me. (I can’t tell.)

There is no question you could ask him that he wouldn’t know the answer to.

You could say, Think of the Meadville Public Library, upstairs, tenth book on the top shelf, page sixteen, what’s the fourth word on the page? And he would know just like that.

I could tell they were listening then; their mouths opened.

I didn’t really expect that to say that. I guess it’s true. Is it true?

Okay, but ever since then I can’t stop thinking about those books. At home, I went to my nearest bookshelf, pulled the tenth book from the top shelf, opened to page sixteen, looked for the fourth word. It was –

But I am getting ahead of myself.

I thought it would be fun if you told me what yours is. Maybe it’s a secret code. Maybe together we would spell out something of great beauty. It would be fun to try.

At the very least, if we said what book it came from, we could compile a delightfully random to-read list.

59 thoughts on “The fourth word on the page

  1. You got me this time! I had to go check…so I may as well comment. My book (on one of my bookshelves) is” Tuesdays with Morrie-an old man, a young man, and life’s greatest lesson” by Mitch Albom. The word is “I”.

  2. I love the way you think! My word is “have” from the National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds. When we lived next to the Erie Wildlife Refuge this book stayed on our kitchen table because there were so many interesting and beautiful species right outside our kitchen window.

    • The book, by the way, is quite boring and sad. Jumbo the Elephant, who lived in England, and was bought by an American circus bigwig eventually died after being hit by a train. His caregiver (who always shared his whiskey with Jumbo) held Jumbo’s head while he died, and was nearly inconsolable, and didn’t exactly reduce his whiskey intake afterwards…

  3. “You” from A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton Porter.

    Aren’t bookshelves magnetically appealing? Mine is one barn wood shelf around our dining/living area and the books are arranged ROYGBIV. Maybe because my books were stored in boxes for three years but I just enjoy looking at it!

  4. It’s absolutely true! My word is “as” from C.S. Lewis’ The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses. The top shelf is my “desert island books.” 🙂

  5. My word is “for”. How disappointing! The book is Pollyanna Grows Up by Eleanor H. Porter.
    I chose the nearest bookshelf. I have several others I could try! 😄

  6. “Observe” from “The Body Keeps the Score – Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma” by Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D.

    Loved your post and reading the comments. Thanks for sharing.

  7. This is fun…so much so, that had to interrupt my breakfast to go and check what my word is! The book is “Prayers for a Woman’s Soul,” and the word is “Soul’s” from the title of the poem/song, “Prayer is the Soul’s Sincere Desire.”

    There are a few other book shelves I was tempted to try, but I decided to let well enough alone, for this one, housed in my bedroom, holds some of my personal favorites.

    • You have this book! This has been on my to buy and to read lists for years! I read “A Kiss for Miss Dove” years ago and it is still one of my favorite short stories.

  8. More… {David has won more souls} from The Road Winds On by Francena Arnold. Isn’t that one of the best things we could do? Sometimes I get very discouraged, as it seems I’m not even doing a good job with my children, so how am I going to help others?

  9. My word is “BACK” from C.S. Lewis “Mere Christianity”. This is definitely fun! But even more delightful is knowing God really does know all this stuff– and He’s intimately involved with ME!! He’s answered some specific prayers for me lately, and I know He knows me!

  10. How fun! My word is ‘that’ in the book ‘Just David’ by Eleanor H. Porter.
    I’m a new follower….I believe I will continue! I grew up in South Eastern PA, close to Reading, and I now live in MS. We also have 4 beloved, infuriating, awesome children, 3 boys and 1 girl, ages 13,11,9,8.

  11. I’ve only been following your blog a short time… But I like it!

    This piqued my curiosity: Following your instructions, the book is “Devotions from the Pen of Jonathan Edwards” and the word is “analogy.”

    What fun!

  12. My 4th word on that page is ‘God’ from Unquenchable Love by David & Heather Kopp. Inspiration from the Bible’s Love Stories, it’s a devotional for couples. We haven’t read it yet, so I think I’ll keep it down off the shelf now! Fun!

  13. I was sure my word would be rather boring. And it is. But because it is also my initials, I will stick with it & not go check one of my other book shelves.

    The ‘word’ is R.R (Crossed the Northwestern R.R. tracks at 2:25)……from On The Way Home by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

  14. I’m picking my shelf at school. I’ll let Wendy pick the shelf at home. I’m expecting your next post to be a collage of our words. O’clock from The Jungle Book.

  15. HOW do you get me to do this??? I dont have time going around pulling random books off shelves. BUT I was so curious, I checked BOTH of my shelves hoping for the greatest word yet!! First was “the” from The Divine Romance” by Gene Edwards and second was “I” from “The Adventures of Johnny Chuck” by Thornton W. Burgess. The two titles amused me. 🙂

  16. “will” from The Eyes of the World by Harold Bell Wright. The nearest shelf was also my favorite, being devoted to Wright and Gene Stratton Porter.

  17. Went and got my tenth book and was heartened to find it was one of my all time favorites ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ Harper Lee. But all I got was ‘said’……

  18. Your creativity is limitless. Love how you gave us a reminder of the greatness of God – and then gave us an action to cement the lesson.

    I have quite a few bookshelves I could have picked from but the first I tried yielded the word “loved” from Ben Hur.
    Gina

  19. My word was just “it.” But it was from “My Brother Michael” by one of my favorite fiction authors, Mary Stewart. (Was wishing it was the second word… “Mademoiselle” would have been a much more interesting word!) 🙂

  20. This is such a day brightener!
    “last” from Christy by Catherine Marshall.
    Something tells me that your Sunday school class will always remember that God knows!

  21. Wow what a lot of books I haven’t read! Very interesting. I donno what my word is. I think I’ll just let God read that word and I’ll just continue to read my pressure canner’s pounds of pressure… (Sorry I’m not as adventurous as everyone else 🙂

  22. I work with books (how lucky, huh?) and am currently at work, so I went to the top shelf of our warehouse…the word is “world” from THE BIBLE IN WORLD HISTORY.

  23. I did not intend to participate because I am German an most of my books are German. But being curious I looked for the 10th book on my top shelf: It was my English Bible 🙂 … So: 4th word on page 16 is “of” (Genesis 20:2 – And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister…).

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