Look out for Old Bibles in Charity Shops

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Here in Ireland when someone passes away, relatives often have house clearances with many old books and even Bibles being deposited in charity shops. I have, on occasions, picked up books which are well over a century old… and sometimes I have found interesting little notes and even faded letters tucked away between those musty pages. In their hurry to dispense with what some thoughtless beneficiaries see as “sentimental rubbish” belonging to the deceased, they either throw the lot on a bonfire or pack it in a box to give away to charity shops.
There are a world of stories, personal life experiences and thoughts to draw on from these findings, I believe, and some old letters or indeed telegrams are of great historical importance and should never be lost. I have a copy of an old telegram written to my great grandfather (whose wife had died some years previously) concerning his only son (my Great Uncle Johnnie) who had been shot in 1920’s New York by someone trying to rob from the business he worked in. He was only in his early twenties and I can only imagine the shock on his father’s face when he received that telegram.
These thoughts sprung to mind when in recent times someone gave me a copy of “Bible Gems… A Birthday Text Book.” This tiny book with its royal blue cover has a Bible verse for every day of the year and also served as a “Birthday Memoranda” in bygone days. One birthday I noted was of an “Arthur Sheppard” who was born in February 1862. There are other names noted, none of which are familiar to me as I believe they are English – not born anywhere here in Ireland. I would like to think that the person who had noted the birthdays, prayed for these people and that the little introduction applied to them…
“They shall be Mine, saith the Lord of Hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels.”
“Thine for ever! God of love,
Hear us from thy throne above,
Thine for ever, may we be,
Here and in eternity.”
Arthur Sheppard, whoever he was, has long since gone into eternity but here is his name, written in faded handwriting in a tiny book – and I would love to think, in the “Lamb’s Book of Life.” I wonder did he ever think that someone would be writing “online” about him 157 years later… If Arthur Sheppard returned, he would no longer recognise this world now, with all the technological changes that have taken place.
Nevertheless, some things have never changed in this world. Certainly, as I have said in a previous blog, human nature is much the same as it was “back in the day” and these days as depraved as it was in “the days of Noah.” A few months ago in a charity shop I picked up an old Bible, which despite the fact that it contained both Old and New Testaments, was very light in weight, as the pages were so thin. This one was given to a certain young boy as a special prize, presented by a certain “Boy’s Brigade” in May 1943. I find some Bible notes very interesting, but this one contained two tiny handwritten notes… nothing marked on the Bible itself. Whether the young man himself would have written these, I’m not certain and I felt that I should tread carefully by not naming him as there is a possibility he is still alive…
There is nothing sensational about these Bible notes. It’s just that I would be concerned that whoever wrote them all those years ago was perhaps not thinking for himself. On one of them was written: “Don’t hold-up your Bible Class – Uphold it.” Perhaps the young person who wrote this “held up” his Bible study by asking a question and he was told to “uphold it – not hold it up.” Questions are not always welcome in some communal Bible studies and from experience I have seen that some “Bible studies” are more like “dictatorships.”
On the other note was written: “My Bible Class Membership means a pact to act.” I’m not sure exactly what that vague statement meant but deep down I sadly feel that the person who was leading the Bible study may or may not have been a Christian. That sad reality was the same back then as it is today. Praise God, nevertheless, His Word never changes and He is the same yesterday, today and forever.
I remember talking to a lady at a Christian convention in years past, who told me that she had decided that the King James Version of the Bible was “too old fashioned.” “I got myself a new version and threw that one in the bin,” she said. I can’t remember my reaction…. probably just an open-mouthed horrified stare. At least if she had deposited it in a charity shop, someone else could have benefited from it but I will pray that even this discarded Bible will be used somehow to reach someone.
In my own society I feel that materialism has such a grip on people that they are discarding everything that they don’t see as relevant to their affluence in the “here and now.” When a loved one dies, their diary and their Bible notes may well be thrown out in favour of possessions with monetary value. They don’t see the wisdom in learning from the experiences of previous generations, particularly those who truly knew their Lord as Saviour. Also, there are areas of the world today where people are hungering after the Word of God and yearn for their own personal Bible and there are organisations which need used Bibles and good Christian books to take to English speaking areas of Africa and other countries.
If you find old Bibles, do use them prayerfully in your own distribution and witness. Certainly there are migrants living in centres here and in other countries who would benefit from Christian literature in their midst. The Lord said that His Word would not return unto Him void. (Isaiah 55v11) Everything in this material world shall one day be burned up in that Great Harvest of the world – but those unseen attributes which have for their foundation the Person and finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ shall survive into eternity. Let us use what He has provided prayerfully and to His glory, while it is still day – “for the night cometh when no man can work.” (John 9v4)

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