I was given the Bible of a 92 year old woman today. She passed away peacefully in a nursing home recently and I had the honor of preaching her funeral.
I wasn't 'given' the Bible for keeps mind you! It was just so I could learn a little more about this saint since I did not have the privilege of knowing her very well in this life.
I can't say how old this bible was but I was scared to flip through it. The pages were barely hanging on, clinging to the binding with all their might after having been turned and turned again through the decades. There were notes and markings on several pages and I'm sure if I could have examined closer I would have found a few tear stains in places.
I'm actually using the notes she wrote to preach the funeral. This is a precious treasure that her family will have for generations to come. I wonder if we might not strive harder to leave such a treasure for our own families?
You know, financial experts say one of the best ways to keep wealth in your family is to have good life insurance. I honestly don't know about that. But I do know a way you can leave your family a treasure that has the potential to bear eternal fruit.
Leave them a bible that's falling apart.
A bible that is falling apart speaks volumes about a person's life. It tells that the owner didn't merely say the Bible was important, but that they actually read it. They spilt their coffee on it. They flipped the pages quickly in search of an answer. They turned the pages slowly meditating on Truth. Some pages are worn more than others as the reader turned to that portion of Scripture over and over. They pressed the pages down as they knelt in prayer with both hands clutching Scripture. A tear drop of joy, or pain, or longing has fallen here or there. Not just a day or two here or there, but throughout a lifetime. Day in and day out they turned the Bible's sacred pages as they caught a glimpse of the glory of God and reveled in what He has accomplished for us in Christ.
Furthermore, underlining, markings, sermon notes, study thoughts, meditations, and exhortations that are in a bible will live on long after a person is gone. Though dead, you will still speak. Imagine your great great grandson reading some thoughts you had one day about Proverbs 3:5 and the Lord using that to convert him! Imagine being able to speak into the lives of generations to come by the way you handle the Bible tomorrow morning! Imagine leaving your posterity such a treasure.
I hope I've piqued your interest. The question now is, How? How can you leave your family something so valuable?
First of all, no matter your age, resolve to do this now. I don't care if you're already 80 years old. I don't care if you're 13. Start this today.
Secondly, find a good bible and stick with it. For this purpose you will need a NON-Study bible. Just something with the text will be sufficient. And binding is important. A nice leather one would be a good investment. Something with wider margins would be helpful. You could always start with a hard back and maybe have it rebound later in life (my current plan). Translation is important too. I prefer a more formal equivalent translation like the ESV.
Thirdly, get some good pens. Try these.
Good pens are important so they won't bleed through. If you want to leave more than just a worn out bible, pens are a necessity!
Fourthly, read your bible daily for YOU! Don't think about your posterity so much as thinking about what your soul needs from Holy Writ. Read it. Study it. Meditate on it. Memorize it. Why? To feast on the glory of God in Christ! To mature in the faith. To be convicted, corrected, rebuked, encouraged, challenged, and comforted. Find a reading plan. Read through the Bible in a year or read through a book or two over and over. Or some sort of mixture of both. But, find a plan and do it. Mix it up over the years. But make bible reading a daily habit.
Fifthly, WRITE in your Bible. You might write a note of prayer. You might write some meditative thoughts. You might jot a note or two of praise, exhortation, challenge, or comfort. You might write a study note or two about historical context or word usage. You may even put a few notes down from the sermon you just heard. Write cross references. Over the years your bible will begin to fill up. Again, it's ok to think about generations to come, but write notes primarily for you. This will be most beneficial for those who come after you.
Sixthly, circle, box, underline, star, etc. Circle repeated words in a passage. Underline important truths. Draw arrows to make connections. Star key ideas. There's no magic formula here. The important thing is that you engage the text. Mark the text as a way for you to soak it in better.
Seventhly, repeat steps 1-6 if necessary! What I mean is, if you fill up a Bible, praise the Lord. Set it aside and buy another one and start over. The Word of God is rich. You will not regret spending a lifetime mining its depths.
Can you imagine at your funeral, a preacher holding your worn out bible, and preaching the gospel to your family in your own words? Can you imagine your family rebinding the Bible and having it in the home for years to come? Can you imagine the legacy you could leave in the lives of your great grandchildren just by loving the Bible today? This gets me excited! With just a little effort you could leave your family an invaluable treasure.
What are you waiting for? Make it happen today. It's worth the investment, I promise.