Pillar Journal

The Bible in the Suitcase

If you were away from home with other people, would you be certain to pack your Bible yourself and read it in front of them?

A group of young people were visiting their minister and his wife one evening. The conversation was about praying in front of strangers. “What do you think of this?” asked a young woman. “Let’s say, there are two men on a business trip. They share a hotel room and one of them kneels at his bed to pray before going to sleep. Don’t you think that it looks like he’s trying to be holy?”

“Not at all,” answered a young man, “as long as it’s done sincerely. It’s your duty to pray wherever you are and in whatever circumstances.”

“My husband can tell a story that fits in very well with this,” suggested the pastor’s wife. “It shows clearly that we may never neglect prayer.”

“Yes, it’s quite a remarkable story,” answered the minister.

“Almost forty years ago now, I went to Boston to be a salesman in a department store. I was only eighteen at the time. I lived in a boarding house in a dormitory room which I shared with some other boys about my own age. On Sunday morning we got up at eight o’clock and as church started at eleven, we had three hours to spare. My mother had packed a brand new Bible in my suitcase, and I wanted to read it. I’d been brought up to read the Bible every Sunday morning. My roommates were reading magazines, and I didn’t dare look overly religious.

“I picked up a magazine and tried to read it, but my conscience bothered me so much that I put it down and went to my suitcase. I started to lift the lid of the old trunk, but then I thought I would look like a Pharisee, so I changed my mind and went over to the window. I stood there for about twenty minutes, feeling miserable. I knew I was doing the wrong thing.

“I went back to my suitcase the second time. I had my hand on my Bible, but I was afraid that the other boys would laugh at me, and again I closed my suitcase.

“As I walked again to the window, one of my roommates laughed and said, ‘What’s the matter with you? You’re so restless!

“I laughed too, and then I told them the truth. ‘At home I always read the Bible Sunday mornings, but I was afraid that you’d laugh at me.’

“To my surprise, they admitted they both had Bibles in their suitcases, and they had also been wishing to read them, but like me, they were afraid of being laughed at.

“So I said, ‘Let’s read our Bibles every Sunday morning’.

“The boys agreed and the next moment all three Bibles were out. I tell you, we all felt better after that!

“The following Sunday morning, two boys from another room came in while we were reading our Bibles. When they saw what we were doing, they stared at us, and then exclaimed, ‘What’s all this? A church meeting?’

“I told them what had happened the week before, and that we had agreed to read a few chapters every Sunday morning before church.

“‘Not a bad idea,’ remarked one of the visitors. ‘You’ve got more courage than I have. My mom gave me a Bible, too, but I haven’t looked in it since I came to Boston. But I guess I should read it, too.’

“The other boys asked one of us to read aloud, and they sat quietly and listened until it was time for church.

“That evening, we three roommates agreed to take turns reading a chapter aloud every evening at nine o’clock. A few evenings after our decision, four or five other boys happened to be in our room talking when the clock struck nine. One of my roommates glanced at me and reached for his Bible. The boys stopped talking and looked enquiringly at the boy with the open Bible on his lap. I explained our custom, and they said that they would stay and listen.

“The result was that, without exception, every one of the sixteen boys in the boarding house spent his Sunday mornings reading the Bible, and it proved to have a good effect on all our lives. I’m not sure if all the boys were converted, but three of them besides myself are now ministers of the gospel. Do you see how much influence one person can have by grace? You must never be afraid to do your duty.”

Question: If you were away from home with other people, would you be certain to pack your Bible yourself and read it in front of them? Is reading the Bible something you want to do yourself or do you do it just because your parents do? What happens when your parents aren’t there? Why is it important to read the Bible especially when you are away from home? Psalm 119:97-105.

Scripture Reading: Acts 16:20-35.

Excerpt from
How God Used A THUNDERSTORM: And Other Devotional Stories
Joel R. Beeke & Diana Kleyn
Illustrated by Jeff Anderson