Whenever I travel out of town, and particularly when I travel alone, one of the first things I do is open the drawer of the bedside nightstand to see if there is a Gideons Bible placed there. Often there is. I take it out a place it on the table, not only so or even mainly because I will read it (I prefer a new translation), but because I want something there to testify to me that I am not alone, that I am accountable to God while I am away from home. It keeps me from making excuses. It may encourage me to read it. It reminds me not to even turn on the television, which will inevitably result in a wasted evening.
More than any of these things, however, it is a visible reminder of what Francis Shaeffer once said (and which is the title of a book he wrote): "He is there, and he is not silent." Whether it is in the emptiness of a hotel room far from home, or in the absence you can sometimes feel when God seems distant or silent, the tangible Word is a reminder that the One who made the world did not just rest from his work and then leave us be. He spoke. He continues to sustain. He continues to speak into our lives. The heavens declare the glory of God. The face of Christ shines in a fellow believer. And the Word is incarnate and weighty in the heft and hue of the printed Word.
I've taken to carrying the digital version of the Bible on my IPhone for ease. It doesn't quite measure up. Somehow, as convenient as this can be, its distinctiveness is lost. It seems more ephemeral, less durable, less weighty. When I pick up the Gideons Bible, I consider the effort someone had to make to place it there, and I'm reminded of how the Bible alone has saved many people and sustained many more. For example, I still recall the testimony of Christian singer Barry McGuire, who began his career with the secular Sixties folk group, The New Christy Minstrels, of being alone in a hotel room, despairing of his life, and coming to faith through the words of a Gideons Bible.
He is there, and he is not silent. Don't take for granted the intimacy and love of a Superior Being, one who needs nothing from us and yet who condescended to speak to us through words. And then, amazingly, who became the Word living among us.
That book is indeed is a testament. It bears witness. And I need that, don't you?