How would I act differently if I carried a Bible in my hand everywhere I went?

Since A Year of Reading Biblically began, I’ve kept my Bible in my bag along with my notebooks, pens and whatever magazine or book I happen to currently be reading, so that I can do my daily Bible reading on the bus or during lunchtime at work if I don’t manage to do it first-thing in the morning.

One Sunday evening in mid-February, I was waiting for the bus downtown, Bible in hand because I had been reading it on the previous bus I was on. A man, dishevelled in appearance, approached me.

He asked if I was holding a Bible, and if I was a Christian, and why I was a Christian, and he told me a little bit about his own life. Eventually, he asked me if I had any money I could spare, as he was raising $15 so that he could get a bed at a nearby Salvation Army shelter.

I’m always extremely suspicious of these requests. I always think the person is going to use the money for drugs, so I either lie and say I don’t have any cash on me, or I hand them a bit of change—some inconsequential amount—and then lie and say it’s all I have. Then I quickly go on my way. (Of course, sometimes I really don’t have any cash on me, in which case I tell them that and it’s the truth.)

As I listened to the man that evening, and as I stood there in the frigid Winnipeg winter holding my Bible, I knew I couldn’t lie. Well, I suppose I could have, but lying with a Bible in my hand would have felt like an all-new low for me, and I didn’t want to go there. I reached for my wallet. I had at least $20 in bills and handed him a fiver.

We chatted some more; he told me about how he had fallen on hard times, and how this had led to a crisis of faith. He was wrapping up the conversation and about to move on—he had to find another $10 if he wanted that bed at the Salvation Army, after all—and I stopped him. I pulled out my wallet again and gave him another $10. He thanked me and moved on.

I’m not telling this story to highlight a kindness I showed to someone who was down on his luck. This story is an example of how I acted differently in one situation because I was holding my Bible.

Holding my Bible in that moment, I couldn’t ignore all of the things I’ve read about Jesus’s concern for the poor. I couldn’t ignore the fact that I had money in my wallet, money that I could spare to give the man, whether or not he truly needed it for a bed at the Salvation Army.

Holding the Bible then and there reminded me of who I am: someone who wants to follow God and help others. It seems weird to think I need the reminder, but I suppose in that way I’m like the Israelites who so often needed Moses to remind them that they should be faithful to God.

“Why do people who work in offices have pictures of their family on their desk facing them?” comedian Jerry Seinfeld once asked during a stand-up routine. “Do they forget that they’re married? Do they say to themselves, ‘All right. Five o’clock. Time to hit the bars and pick up some [women]. Hold it a second, look at this picture. I got a wife and three kids. I completely forgot! I better get home.”

It seems like a ridiculous scenario, but I think Seinfeld’s on to something there. If anything, A Year of Reading Biblically is a daily reminder of what I think is important and how I want to live my life.

--Posted April 9, 2014

In the series A Year of Reading Biblically see also:

Part 1- A Year of Reading Biblically starts now (Dec. 16, 2013)

Part 2- Time for what’s important (Feb. 3, 2014) 

Part 3- It’s God’s story (March 17, 2014)

To join Aaron in reading through the Bible in 2014, see the scripture reference lists in Daily Guide for A Year of Living Biblically: 

Part 1 (Dec. 16, 2013)

Part 2 (March 31, 2014)

Follow on Twitter- @aaronepp  #yorb14