One of the things that sadden me most as I look back on my life is that I did not participate in the joy of giving someone a Bible until I was thirty-four years old. The following are just a few of the memories I have of special times that I was blessed when someone received a Holy Bible. I hope you enjoy.
I had been self-employed prior to starting to work for a Christian Bookstore chain. I was a radical, sold-out Christian, but I had never been into a Christian Bookstore prior to applying for the management training position. I loved it. Not only was there wonderful music, there were great books and a fantastic Bible section. Wow. I loved just standing in the middle of the Bible section knowing the Word of God surrounded me. I loved my personal Bible and knew I could help people love their Bibles too.
One of the first things I learned at the bookstore was how to engrave a personís name on a Bible. I realized that I truly loved turning the Holy Bible into a personís own Word of God by engraving their name on the Bible. Many times as I engraved a personís name on their new Bible, God blessed me with insight regarding that individual. And when I presented them with their new engraved Bible, I was always blessed as I saw it become their most prized possession.
I had been at the store a couple of weeks when an uncle and his nephew came into the store. The uncle did not have very much money but he wanted to buy his nephew a Bible. The only Bible he could afford was a very inexpensive paper Bible with a vinyl zipper cover. The little boy hated the Bible and told his uncle he did not want a Bible. The company policy was to charge a fee for engraving Bibles, but I asked the man if he would allow me the opportunity to engrave the boyís name on this vinyl, zippered Bible. He said he did not know if it would make any difference to his nephew, and he was preparing to leave empty handed. I asked him to give me a chance and if the boy did not like the finished product, he could leave without the Bible. I went into the storeroom to engrave this Bible, and I told the Lord that this one was on Him. When a person tries to engrave a Bible with a zipper it is very hard to line up the name correctly, and when you try to engrave vinyl on an extremely hot engraving machine, the vinyl will nearly always melt. I was new, the machine was hot, and I had a zipper to boot. Not the best situation for trying to present a Bible to a boy who did not want a Bible, did not like this Bible, and who really just wanted to go home. So I had told God this one was on Him.
And lo and behold, to my utter amazement, the engraving was perfect. Hmm, the big Guy even knows how to engrave Bibles. But, I must admit, I felt pretty smart in casting my care on the Lord. I knew He would come through. I took the Bible out to the boy and his uncle, and watched the glorious transformation take place. This little boyís face went from disgust to overwhelming joy as he cradled this Bible in his arms. This was his own personal Word of God, and he loved it. I was ecstatic and resolved that when I had my own store I would never charge to engrave a Bible again, and I didnít. To this day I still enjoy seeing a personís eyes light up when they see their own name on the front of their Holy Bible.
Another time I had a man come into the store on a Thursday evening. He had a friend whom he had worked with for twenty years, and his friend was retiring the next day. He had his eye on a pretty picture that was twenty dollars and he asked me my opinion on whether or not this would be a good gift. I asked him some background information about his friend so I would know if this was a gift I would recommend, or not. He had witnessed to his friend for twenty years, and his friend had always shown no interest at all in anything religious. The man was an alcoholic, was single and headed down the road to death. My customer wanted to plant one last seed about God in this man, because he did not think he would ever see him again. I told him that I would sell him this picture for twenty dollars if it really was what he wanted; but if it was me, and I only had one more chance to reach this friend for God, I would give him a Bible. The look of concern that passed over his face was kind of funny as he said that didnít I think it would be too bold of him to give his friend a Bible. I told him if he only had one more chance in life to affect his friendís life, there was no better gift he could give than the Holy Bible. I told him I had a nice leather Bible on sale for ten dollars, and I would engrave his friendís name on it for free. He said okay, and it turned out beautiful.
Three Thursdays later this man came into the store and he was full of joy. He told me his friend had just left his house, and he had to come into the store to tell me what had happened. He had given his friend the Bible that Friday and his friend had gone to a church that Sunday. He had given his life to the Lord, had quit drinking, had met a Christian woman and it looked like they were going to get married. The friend had come by this manís house to thank him profusely for having given him the most wonderful gift he had ever received. He said his whole life had turned around the morning he received his own personalized Word of God. The man gave me a hug as he said thank you Craig for all your help. Once again, isnít God grand.
Another time a young lady came in to buy a Bible for her fiancť. She told me he had no interest in God or religion, but she wanted to give him a Bible so maybe he would go to church with her. As I engraved this young manís Bible the Lord showed me a vision of this young man as he was igniting a Holy Spirit fire. This young man was to become a mighty warrior for God. I told this young woman to be prepared, because I believed her fiancť was going to come to God in a mighty way.
Another time, I was getting a cup of coffee at the snack bar close to where I worked, and the young Catholic woman behind the counter told me about her son, who was blind. When she said her son was blind, I said glory to God. I explained to her about 1Corinthians 15:22-26, and how Jesus will destroy every stronghold of the devil. I told her that she would get to witness her son seeing for the first time when God healed him. This boldness was from the Lord, because normally I will witness to someone but not quite that strongly. As I went back to work God told me to give this young blind boy a Bible. I sure did not understand His wisdom behind this idea, but I selected a small Bible and engraved the boyís name on it. When I took the Bible to the woman I told her God had told me to give this Bible to her son. She told me the next day that her son was overjoyed with having his own Bible. She said he had sat rubbing his fingers over his engraved name on his own personal Bible, and he loved it. Once again, Father knows best.
Late one Saturday night, about five minutes before closing, I had a black man come into the store wanting to buy a Bible. I had been in the store since 7:30 am and it was five minutes before 9 pm, I had not eaten anything all day long because we had been so busy, and I was physically, mentally and spiritually exhausted. This man was dirty and disheveled, and his tennis shoes were taped up with gray duct tape, some saints really do wear holy shoes. After spending fifteen minutes with him, he finally made a selection, and I took the Bible to the counter to ring up the sale. I always offered to engrave a personís Bible for them, but I was so tired, and it was so late, and he probably wouldnít want his Bible engraved anyway, and etc., etc., etc. It is amazing the number of excuses we come up with when we are too lazy to go that extra step for God. But God spoke to my spirit. He asked me if I would offer to engrave this manís Bible if he was a rich man for whom I offered a seat beside me to, or was this a poor man being offered to set on the floor at my feet. I got the message. God is no respecter of persons, but He sure loves those who are His. Needless to say, I engraved this manís Bible and we were both blessed when I presented it for his approval. We became close brothers in the Lord in the months that followed as we shared our glorious Savior. And of course, he loved his Bible. Thank You Lord for keeping me from being too lazy to serve You and further Your kingdom.
The memories are so strong as I remember the special people I have encountered when giving or selling them a Bible. I remember a special woman who would buy a Bible every month for a young man or woman in her church. She had a Bible ministry and loved giving someone a Bible with his or her name engraved on it. The young people in that church were blessed to have such a wonderful Christian lady in their midst. The time I engraved a Bible for a young man whom in turn led his entire family to the Lord. The many times I pulled a Bible out of the glove box of my old car and gave it to someone because the Lord had told me to. It was one of those times I will remember on paper. We were at a baseball tournament in a city away from home and we had gone into the local McDonalds. As we sat and ate God spoke to me to give the man on the other side of the short wall a Bible. So we finished eating and the kids went outside to play, and I told my wife I was going over to talk to the man behind her. I went over and kneeled down beside his table and introduced myself. I told him that it might seem strange to him, but God had just told me to give him a Bible. I asked him if he had a Bible, and he said yes. I went on to say that if God had told me to give him a Bible, God must have had something in mind, and asked him if he had any other needs. He told me he was homeless and traveling to his sisterís house about 200 miles away. I asked him if he had any money, and he said no. I opened my wallet and had one twenty-dollar bill inside, and that was all the money I had left for two or three days. As I gave the money to this man he looked up at me and said, ďI donít have a Bible either.Ē Praise God. I went out to the car to get the Bible from my glove box and he was elated as I gave it to him. The peace that settled on this man when he held this Bible was truly awesome, and he asked me to sign it for him. It might have cost me my entire earthly fortune that day to give a man a Bible, but to say it was worth it would be more than an understatement. God is so good.
Another time I was taking my wife to work the day before Easter. As we pulled into the parking lot where our store was located, I saw a woman rummaging through the trash dumpster looking for cans. I thought she might feel better being approached by a woman, so I asked my wife Mauri if she would go over and ask this woman if she had a Bible, and invite her into the store for a cup of coffee. Mauri jumped at the opportunity, and both she and the woman followed me into the store. I asked this nice woman if she had a Bible, and she said she did. But she then said she was no longer able to read her Bible because her eyesight was bad and her Bibleís print was very small. I picked out the prettiest large print Bible I had in the store and engraved her name on the Bible. Her eyes welled with tears as I presented her with her new Bible. I slipped a twenty dollar bill in the front cover of the Bible, but it was nothing to her compared with the hug I gave her that Easter eve morning. The tears flowed as I gave her a holy hug, and she thought she had really been blessed. Little did she know, I was even blessed more. To give the Word of God to someone fills you with joy beyond comprehension. Thank You Lord for helping me realize this wonderful truth.
Another time I had a friend from England who always would make special trips into the store when he came to the United States. He came in on a Saturday and bought some books and a new Bible. When I offered to engrave this Bible with his name on it, he told me he had never had his name engraved on a Bible before, even though he owned dozens of Bibles. As I engraved his name on his Bible, God gave me a vision of a map of Europe. On this map a fire was starting to spread, kind of like holding a match under a piece of paper, until the entire map was on fire. I knew there was to be a Holy Spirit revival starting where the fire of the Holy Spirit was burning the map. I was so awestruck by what I had just seen, that I did not have the courage to tell my friend. He was to fly back to England on Monday, so I was repenting before the Lord on Sunday. I told the Lord I was sorry for my lack of faith in conveying what He had shown me to my friend. I was sure I had messed up because I knew there was a blessing in this for my friend, however I knew God would forgive me. Monday evening my friend came back into the store. He told me his flight had been canceled and he was to fly out on Tuesday. I thanked God as I told my friend what I had seen as I engraved his Bible. I told him the fire had started in Europe and had spread. He asked me where the fire had started and I told him it appeared to start in southern Germany or Switzerland, and burn outward from there. His eyes were wide open in amazement as he told me he was going to soon be on a ski vacation in the Alps with a group of young Christians. I donít know what spark of fire was started when he got there, but I know something he was a part of on that trip opened the door for a Holy Spirit revival in Europe. I guess time will tell, but it was nice of God to cancel his flight so I could share this vision with him. Thank You Lord.
I know the reward for giving someone the Word of God is a blessing beyond compare. I know my children are all in the Hand of God, because He told me so. Know that when a loved one is hurting or in need, the Holy Bible has everything that is needed to heal those hurts and supply those needs. Dear Lord, Please forgive my sins. I love You Lord, I love my family, and I love the man You have called me to be. Please help me walk in Your righteousness. Thank You for Your grace. Thank You Jesus for the blood You shed because of me. Thank You Holy Spirit for bringing me into service. I love You Father God, I love You Lord Jesus, and I love You Holy Spirit.