I love to look through them. I like to see which verses are highlighted and underlined. I love to read the notes written in the margins and the papers that are pressed between their worn pages. Grandmother's Bible has the plan of salvation paper clipped in the front and holds the church bulletin from Memorial Day weekend 2002, the last Sunday she ever attended church. Granddaddy's Bible has a newspaper clipping of his 1932 high school football team that someone must have slipped him and a copy of the church covenant. My Daddy's Bible has a list of qualities of a church leader tucked in the pages and some verses in the back written in his architectural lettering.
Those people feel close to me when I hold their Bibles in my hands....maybe because these books were so dear to them.....maybe because the books spent so much time with people I loved. You can see all the time in the cracked bindings and the faded gold lettering.
In my mind, I go back and think about each of their lives. I think about what those Bibles brought them through. I can see each of those people in my mind with these books in their hands.
Granddaddy always read the Bible out loud to Grandmother every night in their bedroom. Whenever we were there visiting, we'd be privileged to sit in and listen. There's something quite sacred about hearing the Bible read in your aging grandparent's voice. When he got Alzheimer's disease, Grandmother started reading to him. I can still see them scooping up those Bibles on Sunday morning as they headed out to church with their offering envelopes peeking over the top of the pages. When Grandmother died, Granddaddy went to live with my parents and each night, my Mama would take this very Bible off of his dresser and read it to him just like he'd read it to her when she was a little girl as their roles had reversed. He had trouble remembering our names and what day of the week it was, but he still had God's word in his heart. No disease could take that.
I can see my Daddy sitting on his bed every Saturday night with his Bible and commentaries spread out all over the place. He was preparing his lesson for the men that he taught. I have a picture of him one Easter morning with my baby boy in one arm and this Bible in the other. When he became so sick with cancer, my mother would read that Bible to him every day and his faith in the words sustained him..... and her through his painful, terminal illness. He knew the time he had left here was short and that his pain would be great until the end, but he also knew it was all temporary and there was something better beyond that.....something so wonderful.....something promised to him......something waiting for him.
For the most part, these books are cracked, bent, and torn and the pages are dog-eared and puckered....nothing that would appeal to anyone really, but I wouldn't take a million dollars for them. They are part of my spiritual heritage. They represent the lives that invested themselves in my soul. They represent an inheritance that was left to me that is worth far more than gold, houses, or land. They represent the hope that I have that my loved ones are all right and that I'll see them again.
These Bibles contain words that have comforted my family through grief, loss, sickness, separation, and sadness and I'm certain that there are pages that have absorbed some tears over the years. These were the books that were used to teach the next generation what the one before had taught them and as time goes on, I'm sure I'll have more Bibles in my stack. Each crack and bend represents the life, faith, and struggles of the one who held it. These books are the anchors that held them steady when the winds and waves of life got rough.
What treasures they are!
"We who have turned to Him can have great comfort knowing that He will do what He has promised. This hope is a safe anchor for our souls. It will never move." Hebrews 6:18-19