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A gift for all occasions

By Rose McCormick Brandon

“I’m still using that Bible you gave me.” From her bag, Janice pulled the paperback easy-to-read version I’d given her. She removed a giant elastic band that held the Bible’s creased cover and worn pages together and handed it to me.

As I opened the Bible, I noticed large portions of Psalms and Isaiah underlined. In other sections, many verses were highlighted in yellow and underscored in red. Hundreds of tiny notations crept around the margins, leaving little white space.

When I gave Janice the Bible four years earlier, she showed little enthusiasm. I wondered if she’d plunk it on a shelf and leave it to gather dust. This Bible looked like it had belonged to an avid reader for a lifetime.

After committing her life to Christ, Janice faced many challenges. Her Bible’s handwritten notes chronicled seasons of deep despair but also included praise to God for encouraging her through Scripture. She’s coming through her trials stronger than anyone expected. There’s enthusiasm in her voice and a smile in her greetings, two things that were missing when we first met at a ladies Bible study.

Never wasted

A copy of Scripture, wherever it’s placed, is never wasted. Years ago, my husband, Doug, found the Bible I had stashed in the glove compartment of my car during my wanderings from God. As he read it, a hunger for more of God’s Word developed. Like a prospector mining for gold, he found many treasures in the Book’s uncharted territory.

When Doug arrived at the Gospel of John, signs directed him to the real Treasure: “Whoever believes in him [Jesus] shall not perish but have eternal life. ... You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (3:16; 8:32, NIV). At “I am the way the truth and the life” (14:6), Doug bowed his head and acknowledged that Jesus is the Son of God. Previously he believed in God, but was uncertain about Jesus.

Reflecting on the experiences of Doug and Janice, I realize that giving and placing God’s Word can be the most effective method of bringing someone to Christ. There are several reasons why.

Sowing seed

A Bible is like a packet of seeds waiting to be planted. The seeds may sit for years, but when planted in good soil they produce crops that exceed our expectations.

Helen, a woman in despair after the death of her husband, finally opened a Bible given to her by a relative decades before.

“I was like a woman who hadn’t eaten for years,” she says. “I just devoured that Bible. Day after day I read it, and at night I placed it under my pillow.”

Many Christians testify to the fact that they came to believe in Jesus Christ through Scripture alone.

Always appropriate

A few years ago, Doug and I attended a birthday bash for a co-worker. It was a golden opportunity to place a Bible in his hands. Our gift looked a little awkward amongst the many bottles of liquor our friend received, but other guests surprised us by saying what a thoughtful gift we’d given. People are often more receptive to the Bible than we expect them to be. What effect the Bible will have on our friend is yet to be seen.

Unique voice

When I don’t have the right words to say, or if an opportunity to witness about my faith doesn’t arise, I can give a Bible. Its words are always appropriate; its witness, always effective.

Explaining His parable about a sower, Jesus explained that the seed in the parable is the Word of God (Luke 8:11). When I scatter the seed of God’s Word, it grows and blossoms, often in unlikely places. On first meeting Janice, she seemed angry at God, an unlikely candidate for a Christian. Like no other book, the Bible’s words are alive and filled with power. That power changed Janice’s life.

Many Janices, Dougs and Helens are waiting to have their lives changed by the gift that suits all occasions — the Bible.

ROSE McCORMICK BRANDON writes from her home in Sault Ste. Marie, Canada, where she lives with husband, Doug.

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