Years ago, I came into possession of a certain copy of the Gideons New Testament. I happened upon it one day as I sifted through some books and papers in my possession.
I have no idea how it got into my stuff. The little Bible was burgundy in color. The words “New Testament, Psalms, Proverbs” were nearly faded out. So was the Gideon’s identification mark below badly faded.
Although I dislike discarding Bibles, the Testament was in such bad condition that I nearly tossed it into the can. But, I happened to open it up. When I did, some hand written words in the front and in the back captivated by attention and stirred my soul—-words that dated back some thirty-two years at the time.
It was clear that a certain mother’s son was enlisted in the United States Army during the Vietnam War. This Gideons New Testament was clearly special, for it was considered an important gift from her to him as he left to go overseas. The name of the son had been torn out of the “Presented To” page. The only other identification was “Mom.”
She wrote, “Take care of my heart, for it goes wherever you go.” I could feel the mother’s pathos as she urged him with those words to take care of himself, for it was as though she would be there with him.
Her last words were most compelling—-“Sometimes these words of this little book will comfort you. Take time and give it a try!” She underlined that last statement for emphasis.
As I gazed on the words of this mother to her soldier son, I envisioned her carefully opening the New Testament to write this note to her son. She was, oh, most certainly, communicating to him how precious he was to her. Her connection to him was as close as her heart in him.
Questions filled my thoughts. Did the son understand the depth of meaning conveyed in this little New Testament? If still living, does he remember them now? Is there a reason why he did not have it any longer, and that I have it? After some consideration, it occurred to me that those questions no longer need to be answered.
But, the whole of it is rather suggestive of our own contemporary realities in that we live and act as though we have no concept of how much we mean to God the Father. It is found in the facts that much of our current society displays a dispassionate consideration of God’s love for us. Comfort and ease find no room for it. Pain and heartache drive it from us. Doubt and disbelief deny it in us. Pride and arrogance blind us to it. Hatred and mistrust for others consume our identities.
Despite what we feel and think, God the Father has a great heart for us. His love and care for us is strongly passionate. The Lord once told Israel, “The Lord did not set His love upon, nor choose you, because you were more in number than any people, for you were the fewest of all people. But, it is because He loved you.” Even today, the Scripture reminds us, “the Father Himself loves you.”
How can we know this is true? The Cross of Jesus Christ proves it! “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
Clearly, we live in a day and time when society at large acts as though they think they are unloved. We are so steeped in sin that we ourselves cannot love others with the intensity needed by others. But, our Heavenly Father is capable and willing to manifest His love to whosoever, to the extent that His heart for us goes wherever we go.
Whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever may be happening, the words of God’s Book will comfort you. Take time, and give it a try.
Pastor Ron Branch lives in Mason County and is pastor of Hope Baptist Church, Middleport, Ohio.