When kids ask me what my favorite book of all time is (a question that gets asked with some regularity in a school library), I have to be honest and say the Bible. There isn’t any other book that has captured my attention since my earliest memories until now, so it’s simply the truth. The Bibles in our school library are surprisingly popular, too. A few years ago, one little boy kept checking out a children’s Bible week after week after week. After I suggested that he ask for one for his birthday so he didn’t have to keep returning ours, he smiled and told me his birthday was the very next week. You should have seen the grin on his face when, a couple of weeks later, he told me that he not only got a children’s Bible for his birthday–he got two.
In my house, I can probably count at least ten or fifteen Bibles, including Jeff’s various Bibles, the kids’ baby Bibles, all the Bibles I’ve either bought or were given along the way, and a crumbling Swedish catechism that belonged to my grandparents. It’s hard to imagine not having access to a Bible.
I’ve been thinking about Bibles this week. Three things happened: One, I read a story about a man in Peru who was ambushed and killed by a group who did not share his passion for bringing the Bible to a group of Quechua people in their own language. Just a few years earlier, Romulo Saune had arranged a special sale of Bibles; before it was over, impoverished people were selling their shirts right off their backs to get the dollar needed to purchase a Bible.
Two, on the final night of a Bible study on Revelation I’ve been attending at Seattle Pacific University, a young man in my group said that he had been undergoing cancer treatment this past quarter, even sitting at our small group table one week with a hidden feeding tube. “Being sick really made me think about my life so far,” he said. “Studying Revelation made me think about what the resurrected Jesus is like.” In Revelation, Christ is referred to as having a “double-edged sword”–the Word of God coming out of his mouth, and with that weapon, He’s so powerful that all the armies that the beasts, anti-Christs, and Devil could conjure up simply fall, defeated, when he comes near them. “That knowledge has helped me come through this,” he said, “and I’m so excited to tell people about how God was with me.”
Three: My precious daughter, Stephanie, walked through the lobby of Otto Miller Hall at SPU thirty minutes before the shooter went through the same doors, killing one student and injuring three others. Within 3 and a half short hours, most of the SPU campus was crowded into First Free Methodist Church, the attached building, and the lawn across the street to be together to pray, sing, and listen to words read from the Bible.
Why do starving people who have never had a Bible rip their shirts off their backs and sell them in order to pay for one? Why do people who face serious illness find comfort and strength in the Bible? Why did the SPU campus join together around the Bible? The woman at the well probably heard it described best from Jesus himself, two thousand years ago: “. . .whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14).
The Bible might be a collection of great stories that a kid can love, but kids, young adults and middle-aged moms can drink from that well of God’s Word and be safe in the knowledge that ultimately, in Christ, all is well.