"But Jesus answered and said, 'It is written, one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God." - Matthew 4:4
By BISHOP ROBERT E. HAYES JR.
As I travel from church to church in this vast annual conference, I often stumble into interesting and memorable experiences.
Recently, in one of our larger churches, I was ushered into a side room adjacent to the sanctuary to await my time to preach. As I sat in the quiet, I noticed a corner of that room was reserved for items that obviously had been left behind. A fairly large box contained all sorts of things: at least half-a-dozen unmatched earrings, a few small umbrellas, several pairs of eyeglasses, and two eyeglass cases. There was a multitude of pencils, pens, notes, and handkerchiefs.
What is it about us that makes us forget items and leave things behind? Are we in such a rush to get back to the roast in the oven or the ball game that we dash out of church on Sunday without looking back for fear someone will ask us to do something?
Well, that's another story for another day.
As I looked deeper into the lost-and-found box that day, I came upon the most expensive and valuable object in the entire collection. No, it wasn't a diamond ring or a pearl necklace. It was a beautiful leather Bible someone had lost, had unknowingly left behind.
I sat down, opened it up, and thumbed through its pages. The words of Jesus were printed in red, and all sorts of important information was contained in the concordance section in the back of the Bible.
You may not think so, but finding that Bible was a thought-provoking encounter for me. How did it happen to be there? Does the person who lost the Bible miss it? Will that person claim it soon?
Losing a Bible is much more serious than losing an earring or an umbrella. I sincerely hope, among the many items that went unclaimed, that Bible will be picked up by someone as soon as it is missed.
The question is: How long will that be?
Have you lost your Bible?
By now, you know this column is not just about one person losing his or her Bible. I'm also speaking to those of you who can go to the shelf and see your Bible. Unfortunately, seeing it, opening it, and turning its pages does not satisfy the question: Have you lost your Bible?
My point is this: In an intellectual and spiritual sense, most of us-if not all of us-need to rediscover our Bibles. By "finding" our Bibles and rediscovering what's inside, we will come to know the Bible is the most unusual book ever written. In the Bible, God speaks, men and women listen, and things happen.
But the greatest thing about the Bible is that it reveals God to us. It is the Word of God! How can we live without it?
If you were reading carefully, you'll recall I said that Bible was the most expensive and valuable object in the box. I can say that without reservation, because it is the only book that provides us with a dependable picture of God.
Yes, there are other views of God, but they have long since been found to be either partial or untrustworthy. Only the Bible gives me a dependable clue to the true nature and purposes of God.
If you read it carefully, you'll discover-as I have-two very important aspects about God: First, God oversees everything, and, second, God overlooks nothing.
Listen to the book's repeated affirmations about the exalted nature of God: "God stretched out the heavens as a curtain and spreads them out as a tent to dwell in... God measures the waters in the hollow of God's hand and weighs the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance... for it is God that has made us and not we ourselves; we are God's people and the sheep of God's pasture."
By knowing God oversees everything and overlooks nothing, we are led into closer fellowship with our Creator. And, by having such a clear picture of God, we then are able to see ourselves better.
Dr. Walter Russell Bowie writes: "The Bible keeps the least life from becoming trivial, because it relates the least life to the transcendent fact of God. It takes existence, which otherwise might be commonplace, and links it with eternal destiny."
How can we afford to lose our Bibles or to leave them sitting high atop our bookshelves? The Bible has been called "The Book to Live By."
How can we live well if we are confused about moral matters? The Bible dissipates the moral fog and clarifies the moral atmosphere.
How can we live well while carrying a burden of guilt for sins committed? It is the Bible that tells us how to lay down these burdens.
And, finally, how can we live well without guidance amid the complexities, false directions, and blind alleys of the world in which we find ourselves? It is the Bible that has helped me and countless others to stand up to life by developing strong, resolute, and steadfast personalities. It is the Bible that has delivered men and women from unhappiness, instability, ill health, and crushing blows of adversity.
Starting your search
The Bible that started me contemplating all this was lost, left in a church. As tragic as it is for that book to go unclaimed, it is more tragic for those of you who have the Bible in your possession and yet it languishes unread.
Is your Bible "lost" in your home, in your church, on your job? Have you turned lately to its pages of power-pages that offer pardon, redemption, and release?
Yes, there are some things we can easily lose-and lose without the slightest degree of pain. There are, however, other things with which we can never part. There are certain possessions we can yield without shedding a tear; there are, however, those things we would never surrender until our dying day. These things are among life's supremacies. They tower above everything else by reason of their own inherent worth and grandeur. And among them is God's Word, the traveling companion for Christians in a changing world.
Is your Bible lost, my friends? If so, find it! I assure you the search you undertake will be one of the most meaningful things you can do.
And when you find your Bible, be like the woman in Luke 15:8: "After sweeping the house and seeking diligently until she found it, she called together her friends and neighbors, saying, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found that which was lost!'"