For Easter this year we gave our kids Bibles. Honestly, there was a sale at Lifeway, and I've been wanting to get matching Bibles in the same translation for everyone in our family for a while now. A couple months ago I read something about the value of each child having their own copy of God's Word to hold and follow along (eventually...when everyone learns to read!) during our family Bible Study time.
[Plus...lest you start thinking we're more spiritual than we are... we were wasting a lot of time with questions about why different Bibles had different words and which one was "right" and arguments over which girl got to hold the one pink Bible.]
The kids were really excited about their new Bibles! My seven year old loves following along as we read (especially since she now has the same translation and can follow more easily). My six year old was thrilled to have his own "real" Bible since up to now he only had children's storybook Bibles or New Testament only copies. My three year old was just excited to be included and to have a Bible in hot pink. She insisted on taking it to church Easter Sunday, and cried on the way this past week when she realized she had forgotten it.
I love that. I love that my kids are excited about God's Word. I want them to love it and read it regularly and submit their lives to the direction it gives. I love that my son peeked around my bedroom door after he found it in his Easter basket and said with shy excitement, "Thank you for my Bible. I love it. Is it the whole thing? All of it? Did you know it has golden pages on the side?"
It was sweet. But as I watched their excitement I was reminded of something I'd seen recently. We receive a monthly magazine from a ministry (VOM) that serves Christians in other lands where persecution is heavy and faith in Christ is illegal. This ministry also distributes Bibles to believers who do not have a copy of God's Word. And I began to imagine how excited these Christians must be when they receive a Bible of their own.
If my children, who are surrounded by opportunities to freely hear, read and learn God's Word are excited about having their own copy, what must it be like for Christians who are desperately thirsty for a taste of God's sweet Words? What must it be like for a believer, who follows Christ at the risk of his very life, to hold in his hands the inspired Word of God?
I cannot even imagine the feelings of excitement, gratitude and longing that must rush over them. I think water probably tastes the best to someone who is desperately thirsty. And I wonder, am I desperately thirsty for God and His Word?
I live in a culture that is fat with spiritual riches. We have no shortage of Bibles...in any translation, size, color or style we want. We have no shortage of Christian books on any subject we can dream up. We have no shortage of churches and parachurch groups and Christian bookstores and camps and retreat centers. If you have access to the internet, there are even more opportunities to listen to great Bible teachers, inspiring Christ-centered music, and read unending amounts of information about Christ and Christianity.
And then I decided to see how many Bibles I have in my own home.
And I thought to myself, "No. I can't imagine what its like to be a follower of Christ but not have my own copy of God's Word." This stack includes various translations of the Bible, as well as a few children's storybook Bibles. This stack does not include the DVDs of the Jesus Storybook Bible in my van, or all the Bibles and commentaries Jon has in his office at church, or the Bible App he has on his phone. This stack doesn't include the commentaries and Bible studies I have on my shelf. Nor does it include the children's books that tell various individual Bible stories. It doesn't include the Bible software we have for our computer, or the various websites like Bible Gateway that offer all sorts of Bible info.
I live in a culture that is overwhelmed with opportunity to grow in the knowledge of God's Word and I feel fat. Gluttonous almost.
Don't get me wrong...I think it is good and wise to study God's Word seriously, using every tool available and considering various translations. We cannot get too much of the Bible into our hearts and minds.
But is it possible that we are hoarding? Filling up and fattening up spiritually, without any real drive to share our sweet Saviour and His Word with others?
What if I didn't have any of those spiritual growth tools listed above? What if I didn't have all those copies of God's Word pictured above? I would want someone to share! To tell me; to teach me; to pray for me.
Am I doing that for anyone else?
Am I willing to go? Willing to give? Willing to pray?
Or am I so busy feasting that I don't notice the hunger of others?
The following names are of people who recently received a Bible. They did not have one before. Many of them are risking their lives by having it and reading it. The prayer is that all of them will follow it and be willing to risk their lives to share it with their hostile countrymen.
The least I could do is pray for them by name...that God would give them wisdom to understand, apply and live out God's Word, and then share it with others. The least I could do is give money so that even more people may receive their own copy. The least I could do is tell others around me the wonderful truths I have learned in God's Word. The least I could do is read one of my own copies...everyday.
"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." (Psalm 119:105)
"How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" (Psalm 119:103)
"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:19-20)