May 3, 2018 | by: Tom Kruggel | 0 comments
A few years ago, at dusk while walking with a contemplative workday head down and right after a jam-packed light rail (BART) ride to the local station, I lifted my eyes to locate my parked car and could see a light-pole casting a reflectivity of sparkling crystals lying all around. They arrested my view. My thoughts quickly shifted toward the unusual landscape: “What in the world?” I puzzled.
Picking up my pace (both legs and heart), I approached close enough to see that, sure enough, my driver’s side window was completely shattered, and thousands of tempered glass pebbles strewn not only the outside, but also the inside of my car. It then dawned upon me that earlier that morning I had foolishly and temptingly left my beloved and vintage old leather backpack sitting on the passenger seat. But within it was something far more beloved – my decade’s old Bible, full of personal highlights and markings, all accumulated over years and years of reading.
It was my very first Bible that I purchased with my own money at 14 years of age, right after God breathed new life into my breathless soul. I had protected the Book with tender loving care by customizing it with (my own hands) an embossed leather cover that read, “MARANATHA” [I Corinthians 16:22b] (Our Lord Has Come).
It was old, used, and without question my most treasured earthly possession. That Bible was all I cared about at the moment. “Steal whatever you wish ‘Mr. Thief’ but, please, do not steal my Bible.” I carefully opened my car door, steered my eyes to look at the passenger seat and, sure enough, the backpack was gone, as were all of the contents in the glove compartment, the door of which was ajar.
With a despairing spirit, I then glanced down at the driver’s seat and was utterly taken aback by what I saw there. My Bible! The thief had rummaged through the backpack, taken it out and carefully set it right-side-up on the heaps of glass. I picked it up slowly, clinched it with both arms against my chest and heart, and audibly whispered, “O’ thank you, God, thank you.” Holding back a tear, I’ll never forget that chill of mystery that shivered up my spine.
My own sentimentality about that Bible and unquestionable conviction that God’s Hand mediated that miraculous moment, all got me thinking, “Relationships aside, like my adoring wife and unconditionally loving children and family, would the Bible be my most treasured earthly gift if all else were stripped away?”
For a fact there are those of less political fortune and freedom (like some in North Korea) that clamor and would give almost anything to have just one page of it in their pocket. After all, “It is written (said Jesus), ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’” [Matthew 4:4 (NASB)] The Bible unpacks the food that does not perish. [cf. John 6:27] And it’s lauded to be “More… desired… than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.” [Psalm 19:10 (ESV)]
How could a book be that desirable and hold that much value? I, and I trust like you who have banked not only their whole life but also time-without-end on the person of Jesus, possess within us something that’s not only astounding, but eludes human comprehension - it’s the immortal and supernatural Spirit of the living God. “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” [I Corinthians 3:16 (ESV)]
Stop reading right here and just try to “land” on that for a moment – HE… is in us. Blows the mind! And how did we come to receive this Spirit? Well, by hearing, and not just any hearing, but “… hearing through the word of Christ” [Romans 10:17b (ESV)] … the gospel found in the Bible. That’s the way faith arrives. That’s the way salvation comes. [cf. Romans 1:16] That’s the way the Spirit indwells.
So, if through a book (and not just any book, but THE Book), everlasting [cf. I John 5:13] and abundant life is revealed, a book that paints a picture of someone so breathtaking that He breathes infinite breath into you, who wouldn’t pay with everything they own any chance to obtain it and cling to what it speaks at every waking moment?
Salvation through Jesus is, indeed, a mysterious and spiritual work for sure (as are all His works, like the one in the BART Parking Lot). But there are some of us who have received it and yet neglect the very source of nourishment that pointed toward salvation in the first place. We can let it satiate us by what it miraculously brought to light and thereafter casually sit in the dark for days, weeks, and months, together with all the other books we only paid mortal money for. Our salvation isn’t static but will harmoniously crescendo until we breathe our last. True truth from the Bible can accomplish yet so much more than what it very first did for you and for me.
A great hero of the faith in my family’s life is the late George Muller (1805-1898), known as the “father of more than 10,000 orphans”, also known as a stalwart man of prayer – praying incessantly for seemingly impossible things all to the glory of God. And despite his best-known discipline of prayer, he (in his autobiography) wrote this about the importance of religious Bible reading:
“… the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be concerned about was not how much I might serve the Lord, how I might glorify the Lord; but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man might be nourished. … my practice had been, at least for ten years previously, as an habitual thing to give myself to prayer, after having dressed myself in the morning. Now, I saw that the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the word of God, and to meditation upon it, that thus my heart might be comforted, encouraged, warned, reproved, instructed; and that thus, by means of the word of God, whilst meditating on it, my heart might be brought into experimental communion with the Lord.” [Muller, George. The Life of Trust. U.S.A.: Revival Press, 2017, page 143.]
Regardless of whether we agree with Brother Muller’s “chicken or egg” sequence of practicing Christian disciplines, here’s what I know, not only by way of truth and testimony but also by way of experience – that nothing, absolutely nothing is more filling and more satisfying than allowing the words of the Bible to arrest my gaze and penetrate my being. They always (and I mean always) enrapture my mind, calm my soul, give me hope, and point me toward a worldview that is unworldly in both comfort and peace. [cf. Psalm 19:7-9]
The very best part of my whole day is always rising early in the morning [cf. Psalm 119:147] and holding, and opening, the Bible as its words become one of the very first things my eyes cast upon and my thoughts soak into. It’s then I wish it could last all day long, and I’m usually just a little forlorn when the next step in my day takes me to another task. I wonder in those moments if I’m actually sensing one of Jesus’ prayers to the Father for me, and also for you, to “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth”. [John 17:17 (ESV)]
So just how desirable and just how valuable is my Bible? How about yours? Enough? Most assuredly, its heavenly taste beckons for more and its matchless worth pales all else. Won’t we seek it more? Won’t we give it all else?
Thomas Kruggel is a non-vocational Elder at Grace Bible Church and works in the City of San Francisco.
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