No. 545



In our community, like most others across the country, we have public housing for people who need assistance to be able to make ends meet in these inflationary times. Up until recently, we had a high-rise apartment building for elderly people and it was called East Oakwood Apartments.
Tragically, a year ago it burned to the ground and 56 of these dear people lost everything they had except for the clothes on their backs. We are all grateful for one thing: no one lost their life as a result of the fire. Within a few hours our community began to come together, and we met the basic needs of those who did not have family in the area and had nowhere else to go. You would not believe the outpouring of love and support that soon followed, and all of these elderly people were taken care of.
This came to mind when I began to think about what I wanted to share with you in today's column. Within hours of the fire, our mayor realized that these elderly people had lost something very precious to them: their Bible. I was blessed to play a small role in getting them replaced, and a phone call to the Gideon's is all it took. I might also point out that this type of ministry is not part of the Gideon's Distribution Plan, but a number of Gideon's purchased the Bibles with their own funds. As a postscript, construction to rebuild Oakwood Place Apartments will soon begin.
The Bible is very precious to me because it is God's infallible Word, and I have been reading it through each year for almost 20 years. However, like millions of Americans, I stumbled around in the dark for most of my life, before fate or providence came calling. While I have no way of proving this, I feel like older people who grew up singing hymns like "The Old Country Church" and "I'll Fly Away" read the Bible a lot more than most of the younger generation. This is why our mayor realized these elderly people would miss their Bible greatly and he wanted to make sure they had one.
If you do not know the power of the Bible, allow me to share this story a reader sent me a while back. It's about an old man who lived on a farm in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky with his young grandson. Each morning Grandpa was up early, sitting at the "kitchen table" window, reading from his old worn-out Bible. His grandson, who wanted to be just like him, tried to imitate him anyway he could. One day the grandson asked, "Papa, I try to read the Bible just like you, but I don't understand it and what I do understand I forget as soon as I close the book. What good does reading the Bible do?"
The grandfather quietly turned from putting coal in the stove and said, "Take this coal basket down to the river and bring back a basket of water." The boy did as he was told, even though all the water leaked out before he could get back to the house. The grandfather laughed and said, "You will have to move a little faster next time," and sent him back to the river with the basket to try again. This time the boy ran faster, but again the basket was empty before he returned home. At this point he realized it was impossible to carry water in a basket.
After one more attempt he said, "See, Papa, it's useless." The old man said, "Look at the basket." The boy looked at the basket and for the first time realized it looked different. Instead of a dirty old coal basket, it was clean.
"Son, that's what happens when you read the Bible. You might not understand or remember everything, but when you read it, it will change you from the inside out. That is the work of God in our lives. To slowly transform us in the image of His Son."
Well, I don't know what you think about this story, but being able to live a long life does have a way of teaching us some important things.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To support literacy, buy his book "Learning, Earning & Giving Back.")