When my father’s address changed from earth to heaven, Mom gave me his Bible. Like most people of his generation, it was the King James Version, copyright really old. Although my dad was a farmer with large, rough hands – his Bible was rather small for a masculine version. Only 5×7 with tiny print. No problem for Dad; he was far-sighted.
The cover of Dad’s Bible is a unique art work, because Dad made it out of leather. He came into the house after a day in the fields, scarfed down Mom’s home-cooked supper, then spent a few minutes watching the evening news or listening to a classical record on the phonograph. As a hobby, Dad worked with leather, and his Bible was a prime example.
The chestnut brown cover of Dad’s favorite book bears the imprint HOLY BIBLE, and I remember the tools Dad used to make that imprint. First, he softened the leather, then lined up the alphabet – tiny steel posts with letters on the end. A soft tap on a hammer stamped the letters forever into the leather exterior.
Dad laced the covers, front and back, with leather string in a diagonal pattern. I watched as he poked holes in the leather, then wove the lacing in and out, finishing with a braid on the top. Even after all these years, that leather lacing holds tight.
But it is the inside of Dad’s Bible that draws my attention. Throughout the pages of this precious book, I notice underlined verses, brackets around entire sections and Dad’s notes at the tops or sides of the pages.
Many of the underlined verses warn against sin. Most of the brackets in 1 John and Revelation, score the importance of eternal hope in Christ. An obvious breakthrough in Dad’s heart is emphasized in Psalm 23:1. “The Lord is my shepherd.” Dad drew a large square around “my.” He knew the Good Shepherd personally, intimately, talked to him while he rode the tractor and rounded up the calves, sang to him when the Oklahoma sunset faded from bright orange to shadowed grey.
Another verse in the Psalms is highlighted, chapter 71, verse 18: “Now also when I am old and grey-headed, Oh God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come.”
That same verse is underlined in my Bible and now that my hair is sprouting its own greys, I follow Dad’s footsteps through the same pathway and ask God to allow me to show His strength to this generation.
Dad’s Bible is a story within a story – the inscriptions that underscore the lifetime commitment of a man who treasured the word of God and personally knew its Author. In time, my story will also be told in the pages of my Bible – the verses that meant the most to me, the brackets that pointed out entire passages and the notes I have scrawled on the tops and sides of the pages.
My Dad’s Bible is a treasure trove of history as mine will someday be to my son. Our choices of books tell a lot about us, and our Bibles tell even more. When my address changes from earth to heaven, and my son reads through my Bible – I wonder what he will discover about me.