I have a collection of Bibles that I didn’t really intend to collect, it just sort of happened. You see when my Mom died a few years ago I was her only living child and since all my siblings and my Dad were already gone I inherited most of her things. One of the treasures I inherited was her extensive library in which I have discovered are many Bibles. Now I already had a good number of Bibles that I have studied through the years. I even have a few my children left at home when they moved into their own lives but that is only two generations of Bibles, so where did the other three generations of Bibles come from? Good question!
This is one of the Bibles that belonged to my Mother. She loved the read and one of her daily books to read was her Bible. She became a Christian when she was in her teens and she never left her Lord, not even when dying. She was faithful to not only read her Bible but she also applied what she read to her daily living. She had the habit of cutting out poems and quotes from the newspaper or a magazine and storing them in her Bible. She also had many of her favorite scriptures underlined and often I see side-notes she made in the margins of her Bibles. She also took notes on sermons and would keep many of them in her Bible as well. She had the old standard King James Bible that she grew up learning to read but she also had the Phillips Bible and the Revised Standard Version. In later years she loved reading the Chronological Bible and of course she loved her various study Bibles. I love looking through her Bibles as they are comforting to me.
This Bible was my Dad’s Bible in his later years. He had trouble seeing as he got older so he had a large print Bible. I can see how worn the outside is and when I leaf through it I can see where he also underlined his favorite scriptures. He always wanted to read the King James Version and not any other. He said that the scriptures meant so much more to him when he read them in the King James Version. His favorite book in the Bible was the Psalms and his second favorite was Proverbs, which is my favorite too. Dad was in his thirties when he became a Christian and I still remember to this very day his baptism in an old country church. I must have been about three years old and my Mom’s uncle Vern was holding me at the back of the church and explaining to me what my Daddy was doing in being baptized and how our family life would change for the better because my Daddy was becoming a Christian. I listened with great curiosity but what I remember most is that he was wearing blue jeans and a white cotton tee-shirt and when he went down into the water and then came back up from the water I thought he was glowing as the light that surrounded him made him look as if glowing! How beautiful he looked.
This Bible belonged to my Grandma Slim. She read her Bible every day as well. She was just a little bitty thing but oh how large was her faith in God. I remember watching her as she read the well-worn pages of her Bible. She never talked a lot about God to me but she impressed on my heart how important the Bible was to her. You see her husband, my Grandpa, wasn’t a Christian most of his life. He became a Christian when he was eighty years old. I asked Grandma one time if Grandpa was a Christian and she told me that he wasn’t yet but that she was sure he would become a Christian one day. You see she prayed for him every day that he would lay down his pride and submit to the Lord Jesus. She prayed a long time but in the end her prayers were answered. That’s why I love looking at her Bible because it reminds me of her faithfulness and God’s faithfulness to her. I found this quote on the inside of her Bible given to her after her home burned to the ground by her Mother in 1966. “Love worketh no ill to his neighbors, love is the fulfilling of the law, Romans 13:10. Philippians 4:13, I can do all things thru Christ which strengthenth me.” Can you tell that her version of the Bible is King James Version? I also found a small empty envelope with “Elsie from Mother.” I would say that her Mom shared more than a Bible with her daughter wouldn’t you?
The next Bible I want to show you belonged to my Great-Grandmother. She had many Bibles I have no doubt and I am sure this is only one of them. It has her name printed on the leather front. It is a Revised Standard Version Holy Bible With Helps! The Helps are maps and explanations of who wrote each book of the Bible and when it was thought to have been written. As I open it I see a photo of my youngest daughter and her husband dressed in 1850 period costumes and it says Merry Christmas. Since my Great-Grandmother was not alive at the time of their marriage nor was my Grandmother I can only assume that my Mother had placed it there. How precious. The cover page of the Bible tells me that it was a gift for my Great-Grandparent’s Fifty Year Wedding Anniversary in 1961. This makes me a little sad because I know that for at least three generations couple made it past Fifty years of marriage, my Great-Grandparents, my Grandparents, and my Parents. In my generation no one will make it to Fifty years as my siblings all passed away long before their Fifty year Anniversary would have been and I was divorced at year thirty-four. Life goes on though and as I look further into this Bible and find a poem titled What A Farmer’s Wife Is by Ardis Rittenhouse. It is cut from a newspaper or magazine and has yellowed. Now I know where my Mom must have gotten the habit to save poems. There is another small clipping from Women’s Household entitled God Cares. I wonder if this magazine even exists anymore. What treasured memories and what a wonderful Christian woman my Great-Grandmother was. She taught me much about God and life and love.
Here is my first Bible. It was of course King James Bible Red Letter Version with a Concordance. What I loved about it is that it has a zipper! That was really cool to me when I was first given this Bible by my sister when I was baptized on February 19. 1965. It was the Bible I used until I went to Bible College in 1977 and was told I needed a New American Standard Bible for study purposes. This Bible and I went through many ups and downs as young Christians often do. It has a special feature though, an insert between the Old and New Testaments where one can record weddings, births, deaths, and Family Tree that I never completed. I also found a note that says Children’s Church Scripture Matt. 9: 35-38, 10: 40-42. There is another note that tells me I am to meet someone to practice at 3:00pm in the chapel. I played the piano and sang a lot in those days so I suppose this is what the note means by practicing. There are two note cards with a talk I must have given entitled Purpose of Being A Woman? That we as women might be a glory to God. There are also the typed out words to the song “How Long Has It Been.” I probably sang it and used these as cheat sheets. This Bible also has colorful pictures of Biblical scenes that I still love to look at. What memories this Bible brings back to me, a young girl seeking to serve and honor God in all she did. I think that is pretty special.
The last Bible I want to show you is the Bible that my youngest daughter left at home when she moved on in life. It is a New International Version and on the inside cover page it says that it was presented to her by me on October 20, 1995. On the next page she writes that she was baptized on June 25, 1995. Inside there are two book marks one which was presented to her from one of her Sunday School teachers. There is also a Students Bible Flip Index that is about the size of a note card. I suppose that was given to her by a youth teacher as well. I told her recently about this Bible and she remembered it and explained that she abandoned it for a New International Study Bible that had all the bells and whistles one expects from a study Bible. I think this will be a wonderful Bible to pass along to her daughter when she is old enough to take care of it and read it. She will be the sixth generation to have a Bible. I bought each of my children a Bible and so I guess the others have taken theirs with them when they moved on in life. I hope they read them as faithfully as the past four generations.
Five generations of Bibles read by people who loved God and believed in living a life for Jesus Christ is pretty special to me. What a legacy they have left to me. I hope that I am passing on that legacy to the generations who come after me. Living a life without Christ is something I simply don’t really know how to do. I see people struggling and wonder if they have a solid rock to lean upon who defends them, protects them, and teaches them. Jesus is my rock and I finally figured it out! We are here for a small portion of eternity and life is like a boot camp for eternity. Some of us get it right and will be with Jesus the rest of eternity and will live in God’s house forever. Some of us get it wrong and will live out eternity separated from God. Since all good things like love and compassion and faith come from God I shudder to think of living on through eternity without Him. The time for decisions is now; please choose to live a life for Christ. If you have questions there are many including myself who are willing to listen and help find answers. Don’t put it off any longer.