This Stream runs 53 years

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 30, 2013

As I finished my devotional time one morning, I gathered my reading material from the kitchen and took it to my bedside table. As I put down my Bible, my Sunday school lesson book, the current “Upper Room” devotional booklet and my “Streams in the Desert” book, I noticed how frayed “Streams” was. It was beginning to ravel where the front and back covers joined the seam at top and bottom.

Examining it closely, I pondered how long that particular book had been in use in my household. There was no way I could think of to date it, but a picture of what I believe was our first copy of “Streams in the Desert” flashed in my mind. I couldn’t even begin to count how many times we had laid that one down at the close of a year, chose another annual devotional book, and then maybe a couple of years later picked up “Streams in the Desert” to start a new year again. It is filled with wonderful Christian poems, quotations, and meditations from various authors.

I knew that our first one was a smaller book without the journal that was included with our later edition. I had seen it a year or so ago when I sorted and organized my husband’s collection of Bibles and religious books in his office. It had a maroon cover and was in worse shape than the one I currently use. Maybe I could find a clue in it as to when we first began depending on “Streams in the Desert” for our daily devotional readings together.

Pushing back the awareness of my husband’s loss that sometimes overwhelms me when I enter his office, I began searching the bookshelves lining the walls. I came upon a break on one shelf where I had wedged a stack of small books among some stand-up titles. I removed and sorted through the stack one by one. A tattered book with a maroon cover and a bare spine appeared almost at the bottom. “Streams in the Desert by Mrs. Charles Cowman” marched in gold on the front cover. An inscription on the first page read “July 15, 1960.” The date refreshed my memory. Members of Gleaners, the Sunday school class we attended in Columbia, S.C., gave the little book to us when my husband received orders for Germany. The inscription continued, “May our Lord and Savior guide your footsteps safely home.”

First released in book form in 1928, you can read daily “Streams in the Desert” devotionals in paperbacks, in hard cover editions and even have them sent to your computer or an iPad. Millions like my husband and me have been and are even today blessed by the inspiring words Mrs. Cowman first collected and compiled to help her in her own Christian journey as she cared for her ill missionary husband. My ragged copies of “Streams in the Desert” bring sweet memories and mean so much that I will always treasure them.