I keep one special book under the bed: my dad’s Bible. It is an old leather black Bible, expensive leather, worn now, with the edges exhibiting light brown cow leather intruding out of the faded black. The cover has “Holy Bible” and “Billy Stobaugh” written in gold letters.
Inside the Bible in my Mammaw’s handwriting is “1939. To Billy from Mother and Daddy, 8 years.” My dad was born in 1932 and apparently this was his 8th birthday present. When my dad died on Father’s Day in 1982, when he was only 49, my mom gave me this Bible.
I imagine Dad got other things for his birthday. Toy soldiers? A pop gun? I will never know. But I know he got this Bible. If you found your deceased dad’s Bible what would you do? I immediately looked for evidence that he read it. I looked for a mark, any mark, that would evidence that he read it, studied it, applied it to his life. Nothing.
Nothing. Nothing in the family register. Nothing next to John 3:16. I know my dad knew God loved him. I heard him say it a few hours before he died. But no marks in his Bible.
I know I have lots of marks in my Bible. I can’t keep up with Karen though. She is the “master marker.” Her Bible is full of underlines. Her Bible underlines are straight and neat. I can’t do it. My lines inevitably invade other verses. I gave up drawing straight lines under verses—I now put squiggly lines. I once asked Karen to show me how she made straight lines under her Bible verses—sometimes without even a straight edge. She ignored my question.
I don’t have my dad anymore but I have his Bible. And there is nothing written in it.
I wish my dad wrote in his Bible, the Bible I keep under my bed. I would like something—anything—that reminds me of him. I am 56 now and it is 28 years since he died. I can hardly remember what he looks like now.
Paul says in 2 Corinthians 2: 3-5—“Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? We don’t need letters of recommendation to you or from you as some other people do, do we? You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone, revealing that you are a letter of Christ, delivered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on stone tablets but on tablets of human hearts.” My dad’s life is written on my heart. It gives me pleasure still to read his Bible.
But, parents, write in your Bible! Even if you use squiggly lines. Your kids will thank you someday! But more important, write your lives on their hearts. That someday, perhaps one cold night, as they wait to go asleep, they will read your Bible, see your marks, and, more importantly, remember that day, long ago, when you wrote your life on their lives.