Alyssa, my six-year-old cousin in Florida, had a simple assignment for school Monday. She was told to bring a book to school to share with her classmates. Her instructions were to choose her “most special book.” She had an extensive collection of children’s books, but when Monday morning came, Alyssa did not hesitate. She didn’t have to think about it. She went straight for her most special book - and took her Bible to school that day!
Alyssa recognized a profound truth that we adults may sometimes forget: the Bible really is the most special book. No other book has so strongly influenced our culture. While we can buy a Bible for almost nothing, it was purchased for us at great price. Some were so angry at John Wycliffe for daring to translate the Bible into English that they dug up his bones, and burned them along with his books. For the same offense, Williams Tyndale was strangled to death and then burned for good measure.
Dr. Seuss entertains with his rhymes, but it is the poetry of the Psalms that for centuries has been heard at both funerals and weddings. Harry Potter novels have drawn millions to its pages, but it is the Bible that millions gather to study each week. Shakespeare is read by almost every student, but it is the Bible, not the bard, which changes hearts and shapes lives.
Though parts of it are as old as 4,000 years, to many of us, the Bible’s message is as fresh as this morning’s dew. It was the first book read to us as a child and will be the last to be read as our bodies are returned to the ground. It brings comfort when we are troubled and troubles us when we are too comfortable. While it has sometimes spawned wars, the Bible has also brought peace. It was misquoted to justify slavery – and it was quoted to bring slavery to an end.
We should not be surprised that a child would recognize what so many adults forget. Once, when Jesus did amazing things in the temple, the children shouted out their acknowledgement of Jesus as the Messiah. When the adult officials complained, Jesus quoted from the Psalms, “From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise” (Matthew 21:16, Psalm 8:2).
The Bible really is our most special book. Thank you, Alyssa, for reminding us.