Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Bookends (01/30/14)
TITLE: Treasures between the Bookends
By Trudy Newell
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I smile as I remembered the times with grandpa in his study. We both loved books! Now he is in heaven. After the funeral the attorney informed me that grandpa had left the bookends and the six books between them to me. I would have been thrilled with the books alone. When I went by the attorney’s office to pick up the package, there was a message in Grandpa’s own handwriting, “It’s the treasure between the bookends that counts.”
“How sweet,” I thought. We both valued the old masters. That was why he gave me a signed copy of CS Lewis’s “The Screwtape Letters.” I was the only Greek student in the family, so “A Grammar of NT Greek, Vol. III – Syntax” made sense. There was an old edition of “Pilgrim’s Progress.” But most treasured of all was grandpa’s well-worn Bible. I hit the jackpot!
Grandpa always held a special place in my heart. At 15 years old grandpa left China in December 1934. You may recall the tragic death of John and Betty Stam, missionaries to China. Grandpa Jim’s parents helped to rescue their daughter Helen. The stories Grandpa Jim told of leaving China made my hair stand on end. This tragedy did something to grandpa. For years he turned his back on God, and his spiritual life took a nosedive. Then the Lord got a hold of his life. He wound up pastoring a small country church in Arkansas and greatly influenced the lives of many, many people. I was one of them.
As a teenager I was heading in the wrong direction. At 14 years old I was already a heavy user of marijuana. Not so common back in 1984. My godly parents didn’t have a clue. But Grandpa Jim knew. He had lived in China where drugs such as opium and marijuana were common.
“Jeff,” he asked, “when are you going to give your life to Christ?”
“One day,” I answered. My love and respect for Grandpa Jim kept me from responding any other way.
Grandpa Jim helped me to get my life squared away with the Lord. I’m sure grandma was looking down from heaven with joy in her heart. What a transformation! The biggest change came in the buddies I hung out with. It was tough to leave the excitement and glamor of “the boys.” The youth group at church seemed tame in comparison. But my parents and Grandpa Jim prayed me through the transition. The Lord set my heart on fire with a passion for His Word and for people. I felt the nudge to enter the ministry. So it was off to Bible College and then seminary.
Now thirty years later I pastor a small rural church in Alabama. My family of six struggles to live on my small salary. My wife, Julie, homeschools the kids and works part-time to supplement the income.
Grandpa’s death comes at a low point in our lives financially. Josh, our oldest, is in college. Beth, in her senior year of high school is headed to Southeastern Bible College. There are numerous medical expenses and our 1992 Escort needs to be replaced.
I’m not a big internet user. One of our deacons noticed the signed copy of CS Lewis’s Srewtape Letters and checked it out on EBay. When he told me it was worth over $6000.00 I about fell out of my chair. Yet no way would I consider selling it. I was not prepared to part with this treasure that was so much a part of grandpa’s life. Besides, CS Lewis is one of my favorite authors.
Later that day Josh called me all excited.
“Dad, you won’t believe this. You know the bookends great grandpa left you? They’re worth about $25,000.00.”
You could have heard a pen drop as I slumped down in my recliner.
Last week I got in touch with the buyer. He is coming tomorrow. The lovely horses will no long grace my study. But we will be able to pay off the medical bills, find a decent pre-owned car, and help the kids with their college expenses.
Yet the treasures between the bookends I still have.
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