“A BIBLE THAT’S FALLING APART USUALLY BELONGS TO SOMEONE WHO ISN’T!”
I love that quote! Charles Spurgeon is credited with it. I, like Spurgeon, believes that a well-used bible shows itself in a life of steady and unwavering faith. So, let me tell y’all about the little black bible in the picture. One of my neighbors purchased their home in 2019. The house previously belonged to an older saint who was well into her 80’s, and when she passed away her children sold the house. They sold it “as is” with lots of things still in it. I stopped by to visit my friends while they were sorting through all the “stuff” that was left behind, and we came across this bible. It was old, tattered and falling apart on the outside. My friends weren’t interested in keeping it so I took it. There was something about knowing that it belonged to an elderly saint that drew me to it.
As I looked at the old bible that was literally coming apart at the seams, I thought of Spurgeon’s quote “a bible that’s falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn’t!” — and that made me wonder about her life and what her walk with the Lord had been like. One day, I was flipping through it, and tucked away between the pages was an envelope with a handwritten letter in it. The letter was dated September 1, 2001 and it was entitled “Save My Home”. Her salutation was “Lord God“…and the first line of the letter said “I write this letter for you to help me out of my problem”. Apparently, she was in danger of losing her home, and in her written prayer, she asks the Lord for help. After the greeting and making her request, the rest of the letter is her speaking back to the Lord his promises, asking him to forgive her for any sin, thanking him for all the ways he has been faithful to her. She writes “clean me” and she writes “Lord I pray and pray“. And she ends the letter with “Lord God, I praise you all the day and night“.
As serious as the situation was, as I read the letter, I heard concern, but not worry. It felt like Philippians 4:6-7: “Do not be anxious for anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand”. Question to you: how do you respond when faced with a major problem or trial? I don’t know the circumstances around this woman’s issue, but being in danger of losing your home could cause the best of us to be tempted with anxiety and worry. But her response in her letter to the Lord is neither! Rather, it is both encouraging and instructive.
Here’s what I see:
…She opens by acknowledging that the Lord is God!
…She makes her petition to the one who can actually help her; and
…She ends her plea with praise
When we find ourselves in times of trouble or in serious need, is our response prayer? And does it follow this type of pattern? I think about when the apostles asked the Lord to teach them how to pray. He said pray “like” this. He gave them more of a formula of prayer and not actual words. Well, I think our sister’s pattern is spot on! Allow me to share a few things that I think her response can teach us.
1. Reverence. As our sister did, she approaches his throne boldly, but not irreverently. You can tell a lot about one’s view of God based on how they address him. She says “Lord God”. She gives the Lord his props. You are Lord and you are God! May we come to God with confidence but with an awe of him that causes us to come with all humility.
2. Remember where your help comes from. After she acknowledges the Lord God rightly, the next thing out of her mouth is “I am asking you to help me with my problem”. How many times do we go to family, friends, the Pastor or our own understanding, making God our 2nd, 3rd or last stop? The Lord is most often going to use one of his image bearers to help us, but let’s be clear… people are just instruments in the redeemers’ hands. HE is indeed the source of help! Saint, before we talk to man about our need, let us first go to our great God who will never, ever say “you’re praying too much”.
3. Praise in Advance. I love this one because the truth is that if the Lord gives us breath, we should be using it to give him praise. If we take an inventory of our life, praise should be easy! In fact, he is worthy of more than we can give, but we owe him all that we have. Our sister ended her letter by praising him, but not just regular praise, she says “I praise you day and night“…that’s all the time folks. Note that she praises him before she sees her prayer answered. That’s faith! How are you walking….by faith or by sight?
Friends, the right to be able to approach God at all is a privilege. You know that, right? Yes, he calls us to come and to come without hesitation, but that’s not because we are worthy. He is altogether lovely and holy — we are deeply stained by sin. He is the creator of the universe — we are the creature. He is never in need — we are always needy. He has all power…we are at his mercy for every breath we take. And yet he is mindful of us and desires to have fellowship with us. So, he beckons us to come. What an awesome God!
Oh, and back to that bible? Although the outside was a mess, the inside was intact! C’mon here somebody! The leather was actually torn, the zipper was broken and the bible’s seam was missing…. but you could read it cause the inside was in good condition. Loved ones, this woman found herself in a serious situation, but despite being in a mess, she was not A mess! She knew she had a big problem but she also knew that her God was bigger. May we stop telling God how big our problems are and remind our problems how big our God is!
Saints, when things seem to be falling apart, we don’t have to! When faced with hard and difficult situations, we do not have to be anxious and worry. If you know Jesus, then anchor yourself to the one who is strong and mighty…. who is faithful and true…. who is steady and unchanging…. who is able to keep us from stumbling…. who loves us perfectly all the time! God desires to use us and our lives for his glory, but not just when things are good, but during the struggles and suffering as well. Even more so! So, we keep our eyes fixed and our hearts tethered to God’s truth and his promises. These truths and promises are found in the bible and they are what will keep us intact when everything around us is falling apart. That dear old saint knew it and we must know it.
In closing, let me share a few things about God’s word:
– The bible is living because it’s author is living! (“And the living one, I died, and behold I am alive forevermore and I have the keys of Death and Hades.” Rev. 1:18). We serve a risen savior and his Holy Spirt is alive and moving in the hearts of his people!
– God’s word is active, because its author is active! (“…Christ Jesus is the one who died-more than that, who was raised-who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.” Romans 8:34). Christian, our big brother Jesus is actively praying to our heavenly father on our behalf. What in this world would we ever have to worry about?!
– God’s word is our source of strength and is our well of hope! (“You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word. Psalm 119:114). We must know it, we must lean on it, we must draw from it daily…hourly…sometimes minute-by-minute!
Loved ones, are you using your bible? Do you carry it around with you? The bible is God’s word, and in those pages, He speaks to us. That’s amazing! This world is a battlefield….we are soldiers in God’s salvation army….the word of God is our weapon. It’s not called the “sword of the spirit” for nothing…and no good soldier goes to battle without their sword!
Let us fight the good fight!