The Miracle of the Bookmark

                By Ralph Sheffield

    For a long time, I had collected inspiring quotations and maxims. Eventually, I selected some of the very best, and, with some of my own thoughts, printed them in brochure form as Ponderables—A Bookmark of Quotations. Later, while revising this publication, I experienced a remarkable intervention of Providence, a miracle, for which, in good conscience and gratitude, I must give proper attestation.
    Years ago, living in the basement of an old building, we were very poor, yet voluntarily so, because of a project of public awareness advocacy we had undertaken. Though I held a masters degree (and had started a doctorate) I decided, with the support and faith of my dear wife, to devote several years of patriotic service to my country in music and word, as others have done so in arms. Performing a variety of music (from Bach to the Beatles) in streets, subways, parks, etc., I distributed tens of thousands of these Bookmark brochures, lifting people's spirits, discussing the priceless heritage of freedom and faith Americans enjoy, and how they must cherish these blessings—meeting the responsibilities and destiny they imply—or lose them. Some of the people dropped money into my guitar case, which provided a humble living for my family.
    One morning, during prayer, I was  inspired, emphatically, to revise and enlarge the Bookmark of Quotations (into its present form), and that I must not leave the work—for any reason—until finished. This was a severe test of faith, because I feared we might run out of food, and that there wouldn’t be enough money to buy more unless I worked the street project that day, as usual. Nevertheless, I understood that, having prayed for guidance, one must follow that guidance once it is given. So I quickly set to work on the Bookmark, trying not to panic.
    After several hours, the thing I dreaded—happened. My wife informed me that we didn’t have enough food for the evening meal.  “Thank you, Dear,” I said, “I’ll take care of it.” Returning to my study area, I fell to my knees and pleaded with God to know how I could keep both the scriptural command to “provide for my own,” and the directive He had given me to “not stop working on the Bookmark for any reason.” The Lord responded that I should determine how much money we needed to get us by. Pondering briefly, I decided, “ten dollars would do it.” (Our family was smaller at that time.) Immediately, I started to leave, intending to pawn my watch or ring in order to put a meal on the table, then resume work on the manuscript. But, as I reached for the door, I felt a terrible sense of rebuke, as if I were doing something very wrong. Again, I prayed, to know what it could be, since I was going to get the money, as I assumed I should. “No,” the Lord reproved, “you were not told to get the money, but to decide how much you need. Now, return to your work.” Almost trembling at this chastisement, I resumed editing the Bookmark—obedient, yet in galling suspense. But I was soon startled when our seven-year-old son came running into the room. “Daddy!...Here!” he said, handing me something. To my astonishment, it was a ten-dollar bill!  Incredulous, I asked where it came from. “Behind the building in that pile of old boards,” he answered. Instantly, I remembered Abraham, and how God had provided “behind him a ram caught in a thicket" Looking heavenward, I rejoiced, “Thank you, dear God! You can still do it, I see. Thank you!” This gave deeper meaning to a scripture I had known for years, but now experienced directly:  “For behold, I am God; and I am a God of miracles; and I will show unto the world that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and I work not among the children of men save it be according to their faith.” (2 Nephi 27:23)
    Thus, this Bookmark of Quotations (“Ponderables”) has come to you—literally—by the grace of God. It has been updated with a picture of our family, as we have performed chamber music together. We hope you will study it carefully and prayerfully, and that it may truly bless your life as it has helped so many others. We have received many grateful comments about it, such as: “Life-changing!” “A mini-masterpiece!” “Dynamite!” etc.

Copyright © 2005 Ralph Sheffield

Ponderables—A Bookmark of Quotations