My Granny's Bible
It’s feels strange to go through someone else's personal life, but it’s a privilege that pastors often have. When I preach a funeral I sometimes do it from that deceased person’s bible as a last reminder of that person’s faith. Often these people were members at their church longer than I’ve been alive. Their Bible has been to church thousands of times, and guided them through thousands of sermons, Sunday school classes, bible studies, quiet times, and more.
The Bible of an elderly saint is often a particular treasure. You can see which verses they went back to over and over, see a record of their growth in the margins, and hear words from preachers long since deceased. Sometimes the front and back pages of bible are filled with verses, promises, or truths from Scripture that grabbed their heart for some reason.
Close to my desk sits my Granny’s bible. She’s one of those faithful church members that studied, taught, and never stopped learning. The pages from her bible both inspire and give me some questions too.
- “If he plows, it’s because He has a purpose for a crop.”
- “We don’t live by explanations but by promises.”
- The mailing address for the White House
- “God’s will. Nothing more, nothing less, nothing else.”
- “SBO Standard Baptist Order”
- A recipe for microwave cake
- “God puts up with me, why can’t I put up with others.”
- Prayer for Baby Ford, a promise and backup promise.
What does my Granny’s Bible teach me? What can we learn when we look through the Bibles of those that followed faithfully after God for decades?
We find that life isn’t always easy
I have a particular view of my Granny as a kind grey headed old lady who always had ice cream. But the verses and scribblings in her Bible showed that her life had it’s hardships too. There were multiple promises about sufferings, doubts, and hardships. I don’t think of her in that way, but this intimate look reminds me that all Christians will face hardships in their life. No one can escape them. Sometimes you’ll find a verse underlined with different pens, or circled, highlighted, and underlined. You know that verse meant something, and it’s often those that promise us hope in the midst of sufferings. Through God we have the promise that in Him we have everything that we need, no matter what we need. The promise that God provides was clung to by those who went before us, and we will need those same promises.
Quantity and Perseverance Matters
I don’t know who said it first but it still holds true. “A bible that is falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn’t.” The accumulations and notes in my Granny’s Bible weren’t all done in one sitting, or just a particular dedicated stretch of Bible reading. The notes and highlights show her lifelong dedication to God and to God’s word. Many people turn to God’s word in times of desperation or depression. It’s wonderful anytime we pick up God’s word and take it into our hearts and minds. But only the life that is regularly and daily dedicated to God’s Word will be shaped and formed by it. The heart that turns to the Bible in tough times is like a soft cushion that leaves an imprint of whatever pressed on it, but will soon return to its original form.
But the heart of a person who regularly and consistently sits under God’s word is like a stone that endures constant drips of water. Even the smallest drip of water will change the hardest stone with enough time. How much more so will the heart change when it is regularly put under the life giving water of God’s word? The heart that daily sits under the drip of God’s Word will be changed by it forever. There is no substitution for a lifetime of sitting under God’s Word, both preached to you and reading it yourself.
Our prayers last long after we do.
Sprinkled through the pages of the Bible are the names of people and places. Some are family members I recognize, some are names I’ve never seen. Some are prayers for healing of people who later died. Other are promises claimed on behalf of other people. Even though my granny has passed her prayers live on. Revelation says that the prayers of the saints are kept in bowls and are poured out at the last days as sweet smelling incense. Even the prayers she prayed that she forgot are still held by God, and someday we will all see their fulfillment.
There’s something more about these old family Bibles. It reminds me that someday someone might go through my Bible in the same way. Don’t be afraid to mark it up, to keep a record of your prayers and of God’s goodness to you. God’s faithfulness will be celebrated by all generations. Work to live such a life what when the day your body finally falls apart, your Bible does too.