Sunday, December 25, 2011

Buried Treasure And A Family 'Miracle'

(This ran in today's Times and News-Star. Merry Christmas!)

There are lots of sick-to-your-stomach feelings that result from pilot error. One is when you step in something. Doggone it…

Or when you hit that sweet, sweet shin bone on something hard. (I am thinking wagon tongue or trailer hitch here.) Mercy.

But it’s a different kind of pain when you drive off with something on top of your car and, in mid-drive, realize it. This can happen when people in other cars point at your car’s roof – “Hey idiot, look above you!” – or it can come in a gut-punch moment of “Duooh!” self-awareness.

Unless it’s a dead deer or strapped-down luggage, you usually don’t carry anything up there. Certainly not your Bible.

But that’s what Mr. Bill had lost. It’s been more than a year now since he and his wife of 50 years headed to their car in Ruston for the drive to Wednesday night prayer meeting. He spotted something he wanted to put in his storeroom, put his Bible on the car roof, then forgot about it until he was halfway to church -- and running late.

Oops. “Let the lower lights be burning…”

After church – where he and Mrs. Minette could concentrate little – they searched ditches until dark. Mr. Bill looked some more the next day. No luck. Of course it rained the whole afternoon and night. The Bible was gone.

Not that any Bible is “just any Bible,” but this was not just any Bible. Not to Mr. Bill and his family. There were pictures in the margins that he’d drawn to keep his now-grown children quiet in church when they were little. All sorts of margin notes from decades of Sunday school teaching. Deacon notes. Training Union lessons.

He started using the backup Bible he had at home. If there was a silver lining in this black Biblical cloud, it’s that his “new” Bible had larger print! But it wasn’t the same. The other one would almost always seem to fall open wherever he needed it to.

A year passed. The phone rang. It was Mr. Bill’s Bible calling.

Actually, it was a gentleman in Jonesboro, 30 miles away. He’d been cleaning off his work desk and came across a book and wondered what this Bible was doing there.

Then he remembered that his boss, who lives on the same Ruston road as Mr. Bill, had brought it in about a year before on a rainy morning. He’d picked it up off the side of the road. “Look what I found,” he said, and put it on the man’s desk. And a year had gone by; no one had taken time to do anything with it, so it had been covered up with the business of that day, and then with the business of the year.

But this day, the man took the time to open it. He saw a name and address, and pictures drawn in the margins.

That afternoon, the Bible was on its way home. And all Mr. Bill could say to his family when he hung up the phone was, “Do you believe in miracles?”

It’s Christmas Day. So much of the business of the year has covered up the things that are important. But if we look – and we don’t even have to look too hard – if we look underneath all the wrapping paper and presents and food and football, surely we can find something priceless that, in our rush, maybe even in our rush to do what’s “right,” we might have dropped outside.