She pulled off the box. It was beautiful — bound tight and made to last. A Celtic pattern bordered the edges of the front and back, as if loving traced by weathered and skilled hands. The brown rubberized faux leather look like an old fashioned wood carved vanity, complete with ornate flowers and diamonds. Bold, in the center, stood a cross, declaring to all who would see that this was the message this beautiful book bore.
It was a Bible. But not just any Bible. It was my little sister's first adult translation Bible. And what a wonder it was to see her beam at it.
"Thank you!" she said.
"You're welcome. Do you know who Charles Spurgeon is?" She paused. I continued, "He once said, 'A Bible that's falling apart usually belongs to a person whose life isn't.' [Yes, I misquoted it.] Now, why would a Bible fall apart?"
"Because you use it so much?"
"Yup. Good job. You know what I want you to do?" She paused again. And I continued, "I want you to wear this Bible out by reading it so much. Okay?"
She smiled. "Okay!" And she immediately proceeded to pretend to rip the Bible in half. "Just kidding. Will you read it with me? Where do I start? The beginning?"
"Sure! Well, you don't have to start — "
"Actually, I want to read about Esther. We just learned about her in Sunday school."
"Well, okay, yeah! We can read about Esther. Guess what the book is called?"
"Uhhh." She paused.
She laughed and showed off her two too-big front teeth. I helped her find the table of contents, and then let her locate the book of Esther on her own. She turned to it, and we began to read, sharing an office chair as I craned my neck to read over her shoulder.
We spent a half hour reading almost the entire book, answering and asking questions along the way. At first it was questions like, '"Who is this person?" or "What is that?" [I often said, "I don't know."] But towards the end of the book, they got deeper. "Did God love Haman? Did he go to hell? Well, if God knew that Haman was going to be bad and try to kill His people, why did He make him? If God is powerful, and if He wants all people to be saved, why doesn't God save everyone? Why did God make Paul [the apostle] bad if He wanted to make him a good person later?"
All that is from an eleven-year-old. And they're good questions. I just wish I could give as good of answers as her questions deserve. [A brief aside: if you really want to see how well you know your theology, how well you know your God, try explaining these things to a child. Explain the theology of election, predestination, calling, justification, God's sovereignty, God's love, God's wrath, and God's justice in a way that they understand. There's no hiding behind fancy theological words with little ones.] Children know so much more than we give them credit for. And I love talking to them about spiritual things. While pompous religious adults have their heads stuck in worthless human philosophy and deceptive manmade wisdom, little children have a wonderful way of cutting straight to what actually matters. All of her questions essentially asked, "Who is God? What's He like?" God is the gospel. She was asking the right questions.
After I had answered in the best way I could, she said, "I'm confused. I mean, you answered all my questions, but I'm just confused."
I smiled. "That's okay." The day was coming to an end and our mother was calling her to bed. "Time to go to sleep. Good night."
"I'm going to bring my Bible to church tomorrow!" She packed it away in its box. "Good night. I love you."
Lord-willing, someday in the future after the Lord Jesus Christ has brought her to Himself made her His own, I hope to show her this post. Maybe her Bible will be worn old by then. Maybe not. but regardless, what a glorious day that will be.
Little sister, I love you too. May you know the Lord Jesus Christ and His perfect, infinite grace and love for sinners — even you.