Friday night Rocky and I attended a pastor appreciation dinner in Greenville put on at the state convention of the The Gideons International. Shannon Bettis shared a most amazing story. She and her husband both spent their early years of marriage climbing the corporate ladder. When their daughter was young they were having marital difficulties. Shannon decided to move out and was in emotional turmoil. One morning, according to her typical Type A schedule, she was running at 4:00 although it was pouring rain. In the street an item caught her eye. It was a small New Testament. She picked it up and took it home. Not ever having attended church regularly, she was unfamiliar with the Bible. Before work she looked up a few of the verses listed under “where to find help when needing guidance.” When she got home from work she continued to look up verses. Within the course of a few days her life was completely changed. She became a Christian. (You can read more about her story by searching “Defined by the Storm.” She supports the ministry of the Gideons who give out New Testaments with Psalms and Proverbs to individuals around the globe.)
At our Women’s Circle Tuesday we learned about William Mackay, the author of the hymn “Revive Us Again” who was born in 1839 in Scotland. Before going off to college, his mother gave him a Bible inscribed with his name. He became a heavy drinker during college or medical school and at one point pawned the Bible. Many years later, as a doctor in a city hospital he saw a patient who seemed rather unruffled at the thought of his impending death. The man had a certain book that gave him great comfort. After the man died, Dr. Mackay picked up the book. It was the Bible with the inscription from his mother that he had sold many years before. He took it to his office and spent hours reading Scripture. That day his life was transformed and he went on to become a minister and a writer of hymns.
For those of us who have been around the church for a while it can become easy to forget the power of God’s Word. We certainly should not assume that most people with whom we come into contact have had the same kind of exposure that we have had. During high school I was in an ice cream shop in downtown Annapolis with a youth group that I had recently begun to visit. Someone said, “Look! A truck is driving by and it says,’John 3:16’ on the side.” I had no idea what he was talking about. I knew many Bible stories but did not have the same familiarity with exact verses. Even in Farmville, there are people for whom Scripture would be a refreshing discovery. Let us not forget that “the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)