Few things thrill me more than unearthing treasures that, for too long, have lay hidden in old books. Just such a treasure is Bishop Gilbert Haven’s sweet reflection on his mother’s Bible–a fitting piece to share on this Mother’s Day. I hope you’ll read it and be blessed by it.
On one of the shelves in my library, surrounded by volumes of all kinds, on various subjects, and in various languages, stands an old book, in its plain covering of brown paper, unprepossessing to the eye, and apparently out of place among the more pretentious volumes that stand by its side. To the eye of a stranger it has certainly neither beauty nor comeliness. Its covers are worn; its leaves marred by long use; its pages, once white, have become yellow with age; yet, old and worn as it is, to me it is the most beautiful and most valuable book on my shelves. No other awakens such associations, or so appeals to all that is best and noblest within me. It is, or rather it was, my mother’s Bible—companion of her best and holiest hours, source of her unspeakable joy and consolation. From it she derived the principles of a truly Christian life and character. It was the light to her feet and the lamp to her path. It was constantly by her side; and, as her steps tottered in the advancing pilgrimage of life, and her eyes grew dim with age, more and more precious to her became the well-worn pages.
One morning, just as the stars were fading into the dawn of the coming Sabbath, the aged pilgrim passed on beyond the stars and beyond the morning, and entered into the rest of the eternal Sabbath—to look upon the face of Him of whom the law and the prophets had spoken, and whom, not having seen, she had loved. And now, no legacy is to me more precious than that old Bible. Years have passed; but it stands there on its shelf, eloquent as ever, witness of a beautiful life that is finished, and a silent monitor to the living. In hours of trial and sorrow it says, “Be not cast down, my son; for thou shalt yet praise Him who is the health of thy countenance and thy God.” In moments of weakness and fear it says, “Be strong now, my son, and quit yourself manfully.” When sometimes, from the cares and conflicts of external life, I come back to the study, weary of the world and tired of men—of men that are so hard and selfish, and a world that is so unfeeling—and the strings of the soul have become untuned and discordant, I seem to hear that Book saying, as with the well-remembered tones of a voice long silent, “Let not your heart be troubled. For what is your life? It is even as a vapor.” Then my troubled spirit becomes calm; and the little world, that had grown so great and so formidable, sinks into its true place again. I am peaceful, I am strong.
There is no need to take down the volume from the shelf, or open it. A glance of the eye is sufficient. Memory and the law of association supply the rest. Yet there are occasions when it is otherwise; hours in life when some deeper grief has troubled the heart, some darker, heavier cloud is over the spirit and over the dwelling, and when it is a comfort to take down that old Bible and search its pages. Then, for a time, the latest editions, the original languages, the notes and commentaries, and all the critical apparatus which the scholar gathers around him for the study of the Scriptures are laid aside, and the plain old English Bible that was my mother’s is taken from the shelf.