How to put a monetary value on a Bible? I’d guess your standard NIV at around $30, with an audible, as translated by Donald Trump, much pricier. Priceless though, are those years-old, tattered …
How to put a monetary value on a Bible? I’d guess your standard NIV at around $30, with an audible, as translated by Donald Trump, much pricier. Priceless though, are those years-old, tattered ones with all the highlighted verses that can be called upon in minutes while putting on the spiritual armor.
Jim Hanna had and lost such a Bible. I happened upon his — a handsome man, belying his 60ish age (yes, much like myself) — story on a TBN’s “Journey from Tragedy to Hope.” Re-broadcast from ’08, I’m thankful channel-surfing landed me there.
The stranger-than-fiction account was told by Jim himself, beginning with friends urging him to church and, “What would you have to lose by accepting Christ?” With no good answer, he went, and was born-again, saved or however you phrase suddenly dedicating one’s life to God’s service.
Handed a Bible that night, Jim eventually wanted and prayed for a personally chosen one. At a Bible Book Store in Grand Rapids near his northern Minnesota home, he was amazed at the countless versions on an entire back wall. Increasingly frustrated in his inability to find just the right one, he received a message — in fact twice; unheeded the first time — “Jim, go home; I have everything under control.”
That Sunday, at a new church he felt compelled to attend, he sat in the back row so if “the sermon got too hot, I could bolt.” At service end, a big man near the front stood up, turned around and looked directly at Jim. Walking all the way back, this stranger stopped in front of Jim and said, “Son, I would never do this myself, but the Lord wants you to have this Bible.”
After 10 years, Jim was a church elder and evangelist, with that Bible — with all the highlights and jotted notes he felt lost without — accompanying him everywhere. In 1990, they drove home from a preaching gig, his wife beside him and beloved, 11-year-old daughter Jessica behind him whispering jokes in his ear.
Signaling a left turn into their driveway, Jim checked his rear-view but forgot to check that blind spot. An illegally-passing semi broadsided them, ripping the station wagon nearly in half. Jim and Jessica were extricated with Jaws-of–Life, and as Jim fought for his life, a doctor said, “Jim, I’m sorry; Jessica has died.” He prayed, “God, if you really love me, let me die.”
In the bitter aftermath, he told God, “If this is how you treat someone who dedicated his life to you for 10 years, I want nothing to do with you. I will never again tell anyone about you.” His once-cherished Bible was destroyed, burned up or stolen, and Jim couldn’t care less about “those false promises made to me.”
A year and half later, a friend called to ask if he’d come and preach. Jim said, “You know how I stand on that; I vowed never to preach again. But since you’re my good friend, I’ll one time ask God what he wants me to do.” On his knees, he said, “Lord, I’ll cut a deal with you; if you want me to preach ever again, give me back my Bible.” He felt safe, knowing his Bible was long gone and unrecoverable.
Hours later, a rifle shot came from the field behind Jim’s house. Having turned in poachers before, he called the authorities, but the dispatcher, to Jim’s irritation, laughed and asked, “You are who?” He said, “This is the Highway Patrol district headquarters. When squad cars are recycled, they’re washed, cleaned and re-sold.”
“Today while cleaning one of those cars, underneath the seat we found a Bible with the name Jim Hanna on the inside cover. With no contact info, it was passed down to the afternoon shift and passed by them to me with instructions, ‘Please seal this in a bag and place in evidence room,’ which I’m now in the process of doing,” the dispatcher explained. “I assure you, your Bible would have sat there forever had you not called at this precise moment in time.”
Jim carries that Bible to this day. “It reminds me God is a God of restoration, despite any hardship and brokenness …” Stopping briefly to fight back tears, he concluded with, “That Sunday I stood at my friend’s Deer River pulpit after a year and a half, and told the people there, ‘No matter what you’ve experienced, my friends, God loves you. He’s your father and he loves and cares for you.’”
Really though, that Bible thing was probably just a series of coincidences.