The spoken word only has a long-lasting impact on many people if it’s remembered by those who hear it and then written down for others to read. It’s only in recent generations that spoken words can be recorded and then listened to many times over. And when such words (and pictures) are stored on the internet – either as sound-only recordings, or as a video on YouTube, and as long as the Internet remains ‘up and running’ – they are preserved for ever as part of the available knowledge of mankind.
And now we are living in an age of electronic books, which can be down-loaded from mobile-phone signals in seconds on things like Amazon’s Kindle. Books, as we have known them for thousands of years, will soon cease to be needed! All knowledge will only be stored electronically, and will be available to everyone, the whole world over, in their computerised world of electronic information.
Two of our leaders recently retired and we wanted to give them a personal gift as a token of our immense gratitude to them, for all they have poured into the work over so many years. So we gave each of them a Kindle! It was a salutary moment for me as I looked at what we had bought them, and realised that in this one small piece of equipment – about the size of a man’s hand and no thicker than today’s Newspaper – they could store thirty times more books than the average household contains in the UK!
The need for bookshelves in the modern home will disappear – and I, for one, will bemoan their passing. I love books! I love the feel, and even smell, of books. I love glancing through their pages, appreciating their design and all the loving effort that has gone into the finished item.
When I came home after the Kindle presentation I looked again at my own bookshelves and picked up a few of the old friends who have been with me through many years of life’s experiences. I was soon lost in a world that is passing from the future experience of today’s children!
I then began to imagine what the next generation would make of my own collection. There are books on motoring, poetry, many biographies of famous and not-so-famous (but important to me) people, books I published in my pre-Ellel business days, classic children’s titles, historic and collector’s items and many others. I realised that by studying my bookshelves anyone would get a pretty good idea of what sort of a person I was. It’s true that a man’s books are a prism which sheds light on his soul.
My eye fell on a very well-used and tattered volume – it was literally falling apart. Inside the fly-leaf of my teen-age years Bible was a book-plate, saying it had been presented to me by Sidney Jackson, the leader of the Ewell Crusader Class in 1955. Crusaders was an amazingly fruitful Bible Class movement that spanned most of the twentieth Century and which impacted the lives of thousands of boys and girls in their growing years. Crusaders was an important part of my childhood life.
As I flicked through the pages I was impacted by the many underlinings and notes I had added to its pages, and I realised afresh how thankful I am to the Lord for all that He put in to my life in my growing years. We used to sing a chorus at Crusaders called ‘Kept by the power of God’. The words went on to say ‘Day by day, come what may, kept by the power of God.’
There were tears in my eyes as I showed Fiona some of the pages and realised what a keeping influence on my life the Word of God has been, and how grateful I am now to all those who lovingly, day by day, and week by week taught me the value of walking in God’s ways. Many times I have experienced His keeping power and I’m so very grateful. It was a precious moment as I put the book back on the shelf, hiding as it does on its pages the record of a young person’s experience and excitement of learning first-hand some of the amazing truths that are hidden in God’s Word.
There is no doubt that the Bible has influenced my life more than any other book. But there are many others on my shelves also, which have been reflectors of the truths contained in the best book of all. I have been blessed to enjoy books and learn from them and from time to time in this Blog, I will pick out titles from the shelves and tell you how and why they have influenced my life. I’m looking forward to a little bit of ‘memory lane stuff’ as I turn again some of the pages.
Somehow or other, I don’t think the soul-less electronic pages of a Kindle will ever replace the experience of holding and reading a good book. There again I may be wrong. But when I see people in a meeting, scrolling down their i-phones to read something from the Bible, I do wonder if it has the same long-term value in our Christian pilgrimage as a well-worn Bible that is heavily underlined and annotated with the things God was saying at the time you read the words? Just thoughts – as I look again at the old friends on my bookshelves!