Take Up and Read

He said, “What is that you’re reading there?”

The old gentleman smiled and said, “I’m reading THE Book; the Bible.”

He replied, “I’m not religious but I draw encouragement from books too. As a matter of a fact, I’m reading a book on molecular biology right now and it explains things about the human body that we didn’t know just 10 years ago. Can your do book that?”

The aged fellow, smiling yet again, said, “Born in the East and clothed in Oriental form and imagery, the Bible walks the ways of all the world with familiar feet and enters land after land to find its own everywhere. It has learned to speak in hundreds of languages to the hearts of men. It comes into the palace to tell the monarch that he is a servant of the Most High, and into the cottage of the peasant to assure him that he too is a son of God. Children listen to its stories with wonder and delight, and wise men ponder them as parables of life. It has a word of peace for the time of peril, a word of comfort for the day of calamity, a word of light for the hour of darkness. Its oracles are repeated in the assembly of the people, and its counsels whispered in the ear of the lonely. The wicked and the proud tremble at its warning, but to the wounded and the penitent it is a mother’s calming voice. The wilderness and the solitary place have been made glad by it, and the fire on the hearth has lit the reading of its well-worn page. It has woven itself into our deepest affections and colored our dearest dreams; so that love and friendship, sympathy and devotion, memory and hope, put on the beautiful garments of its treasured speech, breathing of frankincense and myrrh.

Above the cradle and beside the grave its great words come to us unbidden. They fill our prayers with power larger than we know, and the beauty of them lingers on our ear long after the sermons which they adorned have been forgotten. They return to us swiftly and quietly, like doves from far away. They surprise us with new meaning, like springs of water breaking forth from the mountain beside a well-trodden path. They grow richer, as a grandmother’s pearls do when they are worn near the heart.

No man is poor who has this treasure for his own. When the landscape darkens and the trembling pilgrim comes to the Valley named for the Shadows, he is not afraid to enter: he takes the rod and staff of tested promises in his hand; he says to friend and comrade, “I’ll see you in the morning,” and comforted by that hope, he goes toward the lonely pass as one walks through the welcoming doors of home.

Tell me son, can your book do THAT?”

“…No sir.”

“Here, take mine.”

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