Old, Worn Bibles

On several book shelves in my both my home office and church office are stacks of worn Bibles.  Sadly, Bibles do wear out.  Some of the wonderful Bibles that I possessed when our children were very young fell into exploring hands with untamed fingers and those razor thin pages were detached from the Bible’s binding or else otherwise made useless for reading.  Others, because of daily use for several years, becoming so weakened, especially as the cover and back over time separated from the Bible’s body, had to be retired, usually after six or seven years.  Each Bible had its own special notations and markings and to permanently discard one of these old friends would be like walking an aged family member into the forest and then deserting them.  Impossible!  So, the stacks continue to build.  One of my favorite old Bibles is the one my father used, an Old Scofield study Bible, with his own peculiar yet precious notes.  Until I retired as senior pastor and even since I occasionally used Dad’s Bible as a reminder of how he loved it.  I read almost daily from a large print Bible that my father-in-law read and preached from, a book that he would have given his life for so great was his love for it.  Old Bibles have their own special place and who can discard any of them.  

Once, some years ago, our church youth group sponsored a silent auction and without much thought I pulled one of those old study Bibles from the shelf and donated it to the auction.  To my delight, and surprise, one person gave three hundred dollars for it.  It was probably a good deed as seen as an opportunity to help the teens raise money for going to summer camp.  A man in our church, hearing that I had donated a treasured Bible to the auction, thought he would in turn pay the person who got it in the silent auction the money she had given for it, retrieving it to give in turn to one of my grandchildren.  As I recall, the good man was refused the Bible and as far as I know it is still out there somewhere.  It’s good to see an old worn, shelf-abiding Bible become someone’s treasured keepsake!

If you have heard me preach often, no doubt you’ve heard it more than once, but it is a favorite of mine:

“Though its cover is worn, 
And its pages are torn, 
And though places bear traces of tears; 
Yet more precious than gold is this book, worn and old, 
That can shatter and scatter my fears;

This old book is my guide, 
‘Tis a friend by my side, 
It will lighten and brighten my way; 
And each promise I find, soothes and gladdens my mind, 
As I read it and heed it each day.

To this book will I cling, 
Of its worth will I sing, 
Though great losses and crosses be mine; 
For I cannot despair, though surrounded with care, 
While possessing this blessing divine.” (author unknown)

Martin Luther succinctly put it this way: “The Bible is alive, it speaks to me; it has feet, it runs after me; it has hands, it lays hold on me.”

And, that’s true of an old Bible or a brand new one.  It is God’s Word and always will be “the world’s best seller, and man’s best buy!”

O how I love thy law!  It is my meditation all the day!  How sweet are thy words unto my taste! Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:97,103)

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