Archive for September 1st, 2011

September 1, 2011

The Un-used Bible

by pastortimfowler

My Bible is falling apart. The cover is ragged, the pages are stained and tattered and the stuff that binds the pages to the cover is no longer working. There are coffee stains, sweat stains, blood stains, and some I am not real sure of. A few pages have been taped back together and that little piece of ribbon the is used to mark pages is frazzled.
When I was a kid going to church I always wanted a new Bible. They just looked like something I could be proud of. I remember that we had one on our coffee table in that room that no one played in. It was big and had pictures and a four-leaf clover in it. It was really too big for me to carry around and mom wouldn’t let me touch it anyway. I liked the Bibles in the pews, but they were there for the “poor people who didn’t own a Bible” as Mema said. Plus if I were to take one from the pew and claim it as my own I would go to Hell for stealing and I would not need a Bible there. I think that the preacher liked our Bible that we never used because he had one just about like it that he never used sitting on that table that no one ever used in the front of the church.
There were times when I would sneak into the room that no one ever used and look at the pictures in the Bible that no one ever used. It helped when Mema would tell us stories from the Bible to be able to check out the authenticity of what she was saying. After all, pictures never lies and neither did Mema. Once I even snuck into the church while other folks were in class and looked to see if the un-used Bible on that un-used table in that church had any pictures, and it didn’t. When mom caught me she told me I could go to Hell for that. I can only imagine what would have happened if I had done something really stupid like stole it. I probably wouldn’t go to Hell, it would have come to me and burn me up right there in the parking lot of the church.
So, many years later, after I became a Christian, I was in a church where the pastor used this really old Bible to preach out of. He had one of those un-used Bibles on his un-used table and it looked brand new, even though it had been there for years. But this Bible that he was using was rough-looking. What first caught my eye was that when he would pick it up to shake it at the congregation it was very limp. It was like holding up cloth instead of a book. Then as I became more interested in what was in that Bible, any Bible, not just his, I started attending a class that he taught. I would sit next to him as he turned through his Bible and saw the miserable shape it was in. I felt sorry that our preacher was using such a raggedy looking Bible when he a an almost brand new, un-used one out on that un-used table. I almost went out and grabbed it for him but I did not want to go to Hell.
One day I asked him why he didn’t get a new Bible. He told me that he did have others, but this one was special. It was the first Bible that he ever preached from. He said every time he saw the ragged cover it reminded him of Jesus’s body as it was on the cross. He said that the coffee stains and tear stains and other stains remind him of our sins and how when the word of God was applied to them, somehow the stains became battle scars from a victory won. He said the taped pages were a reminder that God puts us back together every time we fall apart. He said the limpness as he held it out reminded him that Jesus’ limp lifeless body was taken off the cross as our sins were left on the cross.
From that day forward I wanted a Bible like that. I couldn’t take his because, you got it, I did not want to go to Hell, so I got my own. It was brand new when I got it. Paid cash, didn’t steal it, cause I didn’t want to go to Hell. Then I started reading it every day. I read it in good times and bad times. I carried it with me to schools, prisons, and other places that often caused it to wear and stain and tater. I cried sometimes as I read about God’s love and even spilled coffee one morning as I banged the table in disgust as it revealed sin after sin in my life.
One day I was preaching and I held my Bible out to make a point and it fell limp in my hand. It may have done this other times before, but at that moment, I realized why my old pastor loved that old Bible so much.
So I got rid of the un-used Bible and that un-used table in my church and refused to have an un-used Bible in my house. Un-used Bibles make beautiful displays that no one reads. Worn out Bibles make beautiful lives that everyone reads.