As you read each post in this series,
I hope you’ll think with gratitude about those who have influenced you, and
I hope you’ll ponder your investment in the lives of others.
As I reflect on my dad’s life, I am struck by how very faithful God is.
Born on May 20, 1919, in Decoursey, Kentucky, he was soon moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, and he spent the rest of his life there. He was the youngest of 11 children born to Samuel Steele Bible and Sarah Bible. His older siblings had longer, more flowery first and middle names. By the time my dad came along, they were out of energy and out of names. He was just Ralph Bible. No frills, no middle name.
To show you the spread in the children’s ages, his oldest brother, Hascal, died in combat in World War I, while my dad fought in World War II.
His mother died of tuberculosis when he was two. His father was totally consumed in trying to save their farm during the Great Depression—a battle he eventually lost. Thus my dad grew up without parental models and without the attention a child needs. As a result, he struggled his entire life with a poor self-image.
Largely unsupervised, he lived wild in his younger years. Even many years later, with adult children of his own, he wouldn’t talk about the things he did when he was young. The regrets were still very real.
Fortunately, his oldest sister, Bessie, took it on herself to look out for him as best she could. She went to extraordinary lengths to keep him in church, even when it took bribing him with candy. When he came back to the Lord as a young adult, he credited Bessie’s faithfulness.
My dad was a loving, very devoted father. All the years we were growing up, he worked second shift for Proctor & Gamble. As a result, during the school year we saw him only on weekends. But he always made Saturday our day together, no matter what other obligations were pulling at him. He wasn’t perfect, but we always knew he loved us.
His spiritual influence on me was profound. As a child, I remember his prayers. His voice took on a high whine, a very emotional tone that I found embarrassing. And his prayers were far, far too long for my childish attention span. But they stuck with me. I could tell by the way he prayed that God was very real and personal to him, and that helped make Him real to me too.
During my teenage years, when I got desperately confused about something, I could go to my dad. He always seemed to have exactly the right thing to say to soothe my troubled spirit.
Throughout my growing and adult years, Dad frequently reminded me that he was praying for me, and I always knew he was.
Those who have raised children and reflected back have surely been struck by the truth of the old adage: far more is caught than taught. Our children don’t always listen to us or remember what we say. But they tend to absorb the persons we are. Our living example is a powerful influence on them.
My dad was a humble, godly man who loved his family and loved his Lord with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength. Though family economics kept him from graduating from high school, he had an intelligence, an active mind, and a profound wisdom that outreached the classroom. But his lasting influence didn’t come from intellectual brilliance, unique talents, or worldly accomplishments. His life was abundantly fruitful because of the person he was and the faith that he lived day after day, year after year.