~On a weekend road trip, far away from home, you stumble upon a garage sale in a neighborhood you’re passing through. Astonished, you find an object among the belongings for sale that you recognize. Tell us about it.
Cover of The Normal Christian Life
It was a beautiful autumn day, just perfect for viewing the glorious colors of the changing leaves in the hills and valleys of the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina. As we drove from vista to vista our little travelling party observed little sprinklings of yard sale signs along the roadside. My wife and her sisters have trouble proceeding past what looks to be ‘promising’ yard sales or antique shops.
Having pulled aside and after parking precariously on the roadside we made our way to the humble driveway and lawn event. While my wife and I were from the Atlanta, Georgia suburbs and our travelling companions were from Tampa, Florida, and the yard sale hosts were retirees from yet another part of Florida, down-home type greetings were exchanged as though we were all old mountain folks “moseying by one another’s home to sit a spell and chew the fat.” Soon complimentary apple cider was extended and the treasure hunting venture began in earnest.
As usual at these types of yard sale events, differing items were grouped according to interests where possible. The wives are usually drawn in one direction while the men seek out more manly things like tools, sports equipment, etc. I am usually drawn to tables of musical instruments and books seeing that music and reading are my most favorite hobbies. I like nothing better than to find ‘out of print’ books that I can add to my library for very little investment. No such find was to be mine among the old books that day.
Although I did not find the treasure I had hoped for, my heart was thrilled when I noticed a small paperback book, The Normal Christian Life, by author Watchman Nee showing a little age and much use. First, my heart was thrilled because I realized from the marks of usage on the book that someone else had used their copy as much as I had used the one I had purchased years before as a young Christian convert. Then my heart was flooded with the most wonderful memories of love, warmth and joy when I saw a little sales sticker on the back of the book from a small independent bookstore from years past in my hometown of Dothan, Alabama.
I was elated when I saw the little sticker that told the book had come from the same Book Nook bookstore in my hometown where I had purchased my now well worn copy. Immediately my memories went to old friends that I had not seen in over three decades. Although I was in North Carolina physically, I was immediately transported by my memories to that little bookstore opened by a college instructor fulfilling a dream.
Dewey Wilson had opened his Christian bookstore, The Book Nook, in the front portion of a house on a corner lot just a few blocks away from downtown Dothan, Alabama. Dewey, his wife Janice, and daughter Debbie lived in the remainder of the remodeled two-story home. Remembering all quite vividly, I experienced on that cool, crisp autumn day, the same welcome, warmth and love I had felt some many times, so many years before in a place hundreds of miles away. I remembered coming first through their front door as a customer and new acquaintance, then later as close friends and fellow believers entering and leaving their home through their family and friends entrance they had named “The Sheep Gate.”
-You’d better believe I bought the book! I’m still living The Normal Christian Life.
-Donald R. Sansbury, 2013
~Special note of inspiration: Only a few days ago an old friend and I, Allen Jones, renewed friendships after life events and career moves have taken us in differing directions for almost 35 years. Allen was a co-worker and fellow Christian who took me by the Book Nook for the first time when we were both young and introduced me to Dewey and Janice Wilson. Allen not long afterwards married Debbie Wilson, their daughter.