GENDUSA: True leaders carry worn Bibles

Published 8:30 am Wednesday, March 3, 2021

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A giant soul fell into the arms of God last month. His passing was a consequential loss, not only for those who knew him well but because a good, Godly man left this world. We need all the kind, Godly people we can get around here. When God chooses to take the righteous home, I always pray another will attempt to feel those shoes, walk an honorable path, and become a giant.

Because of the pandemic, his funeral was held virtually. I watched as the Methodist minister stepped up to the pulpit with a worn, broken Bible filled with letters and notes. I recognized it immediately. 

The last time I visited my friend, Tom, and his wife, he was headed to Sunday school. He walked into the kitchen carrying his pile of lessons and the old Bible secured against his chest with his left hand. I could not help but notice it because it looked as if it might fall apart any second.  It resembled a file that held everything from envelopes to folded papers and possibly a cookie. I never, for a moment, believed it would be the last time I had the honor of teasing him about hiding my pecan cookies that he always requested when I visited.

The minister carefully opened Tom’s Bible without disturbing its contents. Before reading a scripture verse, he quoted a statement by the famed English Pastor, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, which is so profound, I wrote it down immediately. 

“A Bible that is falling apart usually belongs to someone who is not.”

The Godly giant who leads an exemplary life continuously seeks truth and wisdom from their leader. A leader thus is the follower of a Mighty God. These disciples know to bow, weep and pray for others. They are not boastful, proud, or use power to obtain fame. For the true leaders of our world, understand glory belongs only to a heavenly king.

When Jorge Mario Bergoglio became Pope Francis, one of his first acts was washing inmates’ feet at a youth detention center. He became a leader yet understood he is merely a servant.  He learned his role from the words of Christ found in the Bible.

“Your attitude must be like my own, for I, the Messiah, did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give my life as ransom for many,” Matthew 20:28. 

Tom’s worn Bible was a symbol of where his earthly life was centered and a bridge toward eternal living once it was over. Here, his good life holds no candle to what awaited him because he believed in and trusted his Lord.

I recall years ago walking into a Krispy Kreme near my house to pick up hot donuts for my Sunday School class. A man was standing beside me as the girl behind the counter loaded two dozen donuts into boxes.

“I’ll bet you are headed to church with your donuts.” He remarked as he watched.

“Yes, I am, are you headed that way too?” I replied.

“No, never. The churches are full of Bible-toting hypocrites.” He espoused as if his statement was a fact.

I am not sure if I came up with the response or a Krispy Kreme whispering angel was in line, but I immediately said, “Yep, you’re right.  But where else are we supposed to go to find redemption if not to God?” 

He looked at me for a long minute, and then he smiled, as did I before I walked away. For some reason, that moment has stuck with me like glue. 

The best way to serve God is to draw someone close to him by the example we set. We are not meant to be just readers of the Good Book but to use it as a guide for living abundantly. When we show love for one another, offer compassion, abhor hatred, and serve others’ kindness is how we introduce a stranger to our leader.

To think we know all the answers to life, quite frankly, is preposterous. We do not, and we never will.  Tom’s scribbled notes, folded up between the Bible’s pages, revealed his continuing search for truth, for the right way to be the best example of living a life of faith.

We become discombobulated when we assume we are no longer servants. We lose our way when our pride and intelligence push us to believe in our rules more than God’s laws. That never goes well; thus, we find ourselves being corrected and humbled.   Some of us stubborn souls need correction quite often. Or could it be our Bibles are just not worn enough, like Tom’s?

In loving memory of Tom Mahaffey 1940-2021.