Thursday, August 13, 2009

A New Bible .... With Humble Gratitude

Today, I received a package via FedEx containing a new Bible. In March of 2008 I purchased a Cambridge Bible at a conference I attended. I paid $50 for it. Over time, the black French Morocco leather cover became a blotchy red. I sent it back to the distributor, Baker Book House in Michigan. They acknowledged the imperfection and were willing to replace it, but that particular Bible was out of stock indefinitely.

While on the phone with a very gracious young lady in customer service, I got online to look at their catalog to determine which Bible they had in stock that would be an acceptable replacement. She directed me to Model: KJ563. This was the same size as the other Bible, but had slightly smaller type, plus some center column references, maps and other bells and whistles the the other Bible did not have. I am not a big fan of center column references, but it appeared to be a very nice Bible. The retail price was $139.00. She was willing to replace a nice fifty-dollar Bible with one that cost almost twice as much. I took the deal and the Bible arrived today FedEx Rush. It is absolutely beautiful. I am thrilled to have it. I would pay $139 for this Bible.

Buying a Bible is a weighty issue for me. I love new Bible. I love the feel of the right Bible in my hands. I have acquired nine Bibles in the last twenty four years. Some purchased; some gifted. All have been Cambridge Bibles. I will hardly look at anything else. My first Cambridge I got while in Bible Institute: a Cameo wide margin. I have three of that same model, one of which I purchased slightly used on E-bay for $36.00! (Water buffalo calfskin; beautiful) Cambridge does not make that model any more.

I spent a year looking for the right Bible before I bought the one two years ago. When I realized the color was slowly fading, it took me six months to decide to send it back. Other than the cover, there was nothing really wrong with it. This was a real delima for me. It probably sounds silly, but I could not help thinking of all the people who would gladly own this Bible, blotchy cover and all! I almost felt guilty. "You fat spoiled American! Can't you put up with a few little red spots?" There are poor preachers out there that would love to have a new Bible: not to mention those for whom it is illegal to own one at all! Here I sit with a stack of Bibles.

I am a Pastor; a preacher of the Book. I can justify an expensive Bible because of the wear I put on it. I am very careful with my Bibles: but probably no more careful than a mechanic is with his most important tools. But I never want to take for granted the bounty God has given me in just getting to own a Bible.

I will never forget the words of a chapel speaker I heard during Bible College who said, "If you have a King James Bible in your hand, you hold a Book dripping with the blood of sixty-five million martyrs! for GOD's sake defend that Book!" That had a profound affect on me.

I opened my new Bible today. It is covered in the highest grade of leather. The pages are crisp and beautiful; its edges gilded in gold leaf. I still have all of my other Bibles. They will some day be passed on to my children or my grand children. I would hope to some day place them into the hands of some one who will appreciate my humble reverence; not writing it off as sappy sentimentality. I have two of my grandfathers preaching Bibles. I have one of my Dad's preaching Bibles. They are precious heirlooms to me.

I just pray that when this new Bible is marked up, tattered, faded and aged; that whoever receives it will know its value. I hope they will since its life: the tear-stained cover; the carefully turned pages; the hieroglyphic markings from sermon notes in the margins. I pray that, for this Bible, as with my own life, when it is worn out and too fragile to handle, somebody will hold it with appreciation for how it was used.

Just a thought. Thank you for reading.

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