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James R. Stout

How Much is $3 Worth?

            I was recently digging through some boxes in my spare bedroom closet searching for some items that I wanted to photograph for my new book. I opened a box that I probably had not looked into for at least ten years. In fact, I’m guessing the items were packed into the box in about 2004 when I moved out of my house in Pasadena, Texas and never opened until a few days ago.

            Among the things that I found in the box included a high school graduation picture of my son in 2002, a book of maps of the Holy lands, a diary that I kept for about half of 1983, and other such keepsakes. Finally, I found something that is about to turn 56 years old. Seeing it again brought me a flood of memories. What is it that could do such a thing? My first Bible. It’s not a Bible that would be generally given to a child of 8 years old. There are no color pictures in it. It’s nothing fancy at all. I must say that it was made for someone with better eyesight than I have now! The printing is very small. There are some pictures in it from the Holy lands, but they are all in black and white and are of the way things were about the time the Bible was printed. It is amazing to me to realize that things were not that much different for everyday people in 1963 than they had been in the time of Jesus.

            I opened the Bible and there on the first page it shows that the Bible was given to me by my older sister, Barbara, for my 8th birthday. Now, I don’t know what the Bible cost was in 1963. As I stated, it’s nothing fancy. But I would assume that it probably cost about $3-$5. Today that would translate into about $50. That was some kind of expenditure by my sister for her little brother. A mostly bothersome little brother I would guess. She was only 13 at the time. She made money by doing extra things for my parents. Perhaps she washed the car a few times (50 cents), watched me and my other sister while my parents were at the store, or some such things to earn extra money. But the fact is she had to work hard for that money, and she chose to spend it on me. That flat-out amazes me today. She sure didn’t have to do that. She could have bought me a 50-cent spinning top and I would have been happy, but something told her to buy me that Bible. As it turned out, that was a gift that was worth far more than its monetary value.

            The Bible saw some wear over the next several years. It was my main Bible for the next five years. It’s replacement? Another Bible for my 13th birthday by Barbara. But during the five years that it was my only Bible I carried it to church every Sunday where it saw service in Sunday School, Church Services, Revivals, and Bible studies. It’s a King James Version. That Bible is dog-eared, some pages are scribbled on, and the imitation leather cover is bent and worn around the ages. But it sure saw some service. I’ll attach a couple of pictures of it at the end of this blog. I’ve owned or own several Bibles over the years in several different translations.

            All of this brings me back to one thing. No matter how many Bibles that I have owned or will own none of them means more to me than that 1963 Bible that my sister gave me. Why? Well, to begin with it was a selfless gift from my sister. It was given with the purest of reasons. She cared about my immortal soul and wanted me to own a Bible that I could learn the story of Jesus, the stories of the Bible, and could study them with my own copy. The other main reason it is so special to me is that not long after receiving that Bible as a gift I came to know Jesus as my personal savior. Becoming a Christian and understanding what that meant made that first Bible come alive to me. As a historian, I was first drawn to the several books of the Bible that are narratives of historical events. To this day some of those books are my favorite books that I love to read over and over again. The Gospel of Luke and Acts stand out in the New Testament for me. Of course, there are the meatier books that quenched my thirst beyond history. The Gospel of John, the Letters of Paul, and The Revelation of John come to mind. In the old Testament I found great interest in Genesis, Exodus, the stories in Judges and Kings, the books written by both major and minor prophets, and so many more.

            The truth is that the Bible, a set of books and letters, reveal to all of those willing to listen, God and His plans for mankind. He loves us more than we could ever understand. I am not a preacher. I do not claim to be a Biblical scholar. I am just a man who at the age of 8 was given a wonderful gift that opened my mind to who God is and in time opened my heart to Him. You just never know when a $3 gift might turn into a treasure beyond worth.

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