My mother passed on to me many treasures which I have kept in a box at the top of my closet. Not long ago, I pulled out the box and began to leaf through the pictures. As I went through the memorabilia, I discovered several confirmation certificates in German, a German prayer book and my Grandfather Hess' Bible.
The book was worn with age and the date listed in the front cover was February 25, 1929. My grandfather signed it "Otto W. Hess, Napoleon, Ohio." What made it remarkable, though, was the back few pages where he had written this note on January 2, 1956: "I have but one prayer..that all my loved ones will go with me into Eternity. I do not hate to die for death's sake - I only hate to leave you all so that I cannot be with you if you need me. The joy you give me will go with me to my grave - I hope my memory will follow you forever. Then, I shall be happy in my grave. I wish we could all live forever."
Sadly, I cannot say for certain if my grandfather is in heaven. He said he believed in God, but he only went to church every now and then. Indeed, he was well acquainted with the Bible and used it most effectively in his many court cases for he was a defense attorney. The Psalms were his favorite to quote.
Reading what he wrote in the last sentence really makes me stop and pause. He wanted us to all live forever....but did he really know and believe that we can? Faith in Jesus Christ is the way we not only receive forgiveness for our sins but also the way that we have assurance that we will live forever with our Lord.
Isn't it peculiar that people can own a Bible which is a treasure trove of grace, mercy and peace, but never look inside and find the eternal life they want to live? Most people have two or three Bibles in their home but never open the Word to find the answers to life. It is like having an owner's manual for a new gadget but never bothering to read it. We stumble around and try to figure out the gadget without any assistance from the manual. Sometimes we get lucky and the new gadget works. Other times when we are about to give up completely, we break down and open the manual to see how the gadget is supposed to function. The Bible is the same way. If we read it, we will live more successfully.
My grandfather read the Bible. He used it in the courtroom very powerfully. However, I do not know if it penetrated his heart. I do not know if I will see him in eternity. Perhaps this is why I devoted myself to teaching our children about the Lord. I want them to live forever and enjoy the Lord in all His glory. Even more, I want friends and neighbors to know the Good News too because I have read it for myself in the pages of God's Word.
Our Bibles are meant to be read, meditated on and absorbed so that our lives become more and more like the Lord Jesus Christ. According to Hebrews 4:12, we read: "For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two edged sword piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." Now, that is what I call a powerful book!
I am glad that I have my grandfather's Bible. It is a precious memento of times gone by, but unless he read and believed the truth contained in it, I will not see him in heaven. This more than anything else should make us want to reach out to those around us and share the salvation story in all seasons of life. May we be quick to put on our Gospel shoes and do just that so that we may be able to enjoy eternity with family, friends and neighbors in the presence of the Lord. Selah!
Father, help us to be faithful in reading Your Word. May it change our hearts and minds in Christ. Lead us to boldly share the story of salvation with those You put in our path so that we may glorify You and live forever in Your presence. In Jesus' name, Amen.