Do you own a Bible? Most of us have more than one. I know I do. I had always thought I had a great appreciation for my Bible until I had an eyeopening conversation with my sister-in-law, Elizabeth.
Elizabeth grew up in the Ukraine, which at the time was part of the Soviet Union.
Her family loved God, but was not allowed to own a Bible. Every Sunday morning, Elizabeth, along with her grandmother, father, mother, two brothers, and two sisters, gathered secretly in an empty room in their home listening to a church service via the family radio.
Years prior, her great-grandparents were killed by Russian KGB because of their Christian faith. Her great-grandfather, who was eighty-nine at the time, was dragged through the snow.
Elizabeth’s grandmother kept a tiny New Testament Bible hidden in the house. It was written in Old Slavic. Her knowledge of God and the Bible was limited to what her grandmother could translate into Ukrainian.
Finally, when the Russian government crashed in 1993, after seventy-five years, the Ukraine, as well as fifteen other countries, were free of Russian tyranny.
At the age of thirty-five Elizabeth was able to worship freely for the first time. Did you catch that? Thirty-five!
Then one day, she took a bus to church at a nearby town to pray. On a table with a lady seated behind it, she saw three Bibles for sale.
“WOW! A Bible! I can’t believe it. I can buy a Bible! I can have my own Bible!” As she spoke I could see tears forming in her eyes.
There was one with a deep red cover, one with a blue cover, and one had a green cover.
“I chose the green one,” she told me, “green, the color of life. We have green lights, which tell us to go. We have green leaves, signifying new life. And of course, the green branches laid at Jesus’ feet on his triumphal entry into Jerusalem.”
She paused, “Where is that in the Bible?” We both opened our Bibles. As she glanced down at her Bible she said, “There it is Matthew 21, look!” To our amazement she had randomly opened the Bible to the exact passage.
“I chose green.”
After buying her green Bible she embraced it like a mother does her new baby.
Upon arriving home, sobbing, she kissed her Bible repeatedly.
She spent most of that day and night reading, more like devouring, the words on the pages. Before that day she had only heard about “this book” from her grandmother. The stories she heard so much about, which before had only seemed like fairytales, were now clutched in her hands inside the pages of her cherished book.
Could you imagine?
Could you imagine being so thankful that you cried and kissed God’s Word?
Could you imagine loving God, worshipping God, but not being able to attend church or read a Bible?
“At first, I didn’t understand what I read in my Bible” Elizabeth told me “but then I asked God to open my heart and help me understand. And He did.” As she talks about God’s Word today, you would think she had a Bible degree.
“God taught me,” she humbly says.
Whoa! Just whoa!
How often do you open your Bible?
We can take the most precious gift and turn it into commonplace.
How often do you skip church?
How often do we complain about the worship music in church?
How often do we complain about our seats in church?
How often do we complain about parking at church?
If you have a church to attend and you own a Bible, you are blessed!
How many blessings has God given to us and yet we haven’t fully received them? Reading our Bible is a privilege and a tremendous gift.
Churches where we can freely worship and serve God are blessings heaped upon blessings.
After my conversation with my sister-in-law I came away with a newfound appreciation for God’s Word, and the freedom to worship and love God unhindered. The only hindrances I have are those in which I have created myself.
I am thankful today for my Bible.
I am thankful today for my church.
I am thankful today I can talk to others about my faith.
I am thankful today I can worship God and serve Him without concern of death or imprisonment.
What are you thankful for today?
Until next time, love God. Love others. Never stop worshipping. And never stop reading your Bible.