Taking a Knife to the Sword

Would you ever tear out a page of the Bible? And if you would, why would you?

Thomas Jefferson didn’t actually tear out pages of the Bible, but he did use a knife to cut out passages he didn’t think should be in it. Others may not cut them out, or tear them out, but simply choose to ignore passages they don’t like. But is there ever a good reason to literally tear out some pages? The answer, surprisingly, is yes.

I recently read an amazing account of an attempted crossing of Antarctica by Sir Ernest Shackleton and a crew of twenty- seven that took place over a hundred years ago. They began their journey on the Endurance, a ship that didn’t endure. When it became trapped in the frozen sea it was crushed like an egg, leaving them marooned on an ice flow. When they abandoned ship they took the supplies needed for survival, drug two lifeboats onto the ice, and the men were allowed to each take two pounds of personal possessions with them.

By way of example, before the assembled men, Shackleton discarded a handful of gold sovereigns and his gold watch on the ice, followed by his silver brushes and dressing cases. He then took the Bible that had been presented to the ship before departure by Queen Alexandra. Ripping out the flyleaf and a few other pages, he lay the Bible on the ice. The pages he retained were those of the Twenty-third Psalm and these verses from Job:
Out of the womb came the ice?
And the hoary frost of Heaven, who hath gendered it?
The waters are hid as with a stone
And the face of the deep is frozen.

He may have read those verses while preparing to sail into the frozen deep, and they apparently spoke to him. And, unlike the author of Hebrews who prefaced a quote with, “One has testified somewhere, saying…”, he knew where to find it.

I’m not suggesting that we unnecessarily tear out pages of the Bible to keep with us, but if our memory doesn’t allow us to hide the word in our heart very well, we should at least mark the passages that really speak to us so we can find them in a time of need.

God Bless, Rick

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