E. T. GACKENHEIMER LAID his preaching Bible on top of his car and then drove off.
When he arrived at the church where he was scheduled to speak in Barbados some time later, he realized what he had done. By then, it was too late to try to backtrack and find it.
E. T. never saw his Bible again. It was lost forever–or so he thought.
Twenty years after E. T.’s death and more than five decades after his Bible slid off the top of his automobile, the volume found its way back into his families’ possession this past June. It was a gift from a stranger who had found it in a moldy, dusty stack of books in Chile, South America.
Stephanie Garcia, a missionary herself, decided one day to stop by a local junk store. As she perused the dilapidated merchandise, she stumbled across a leather-bound Bible with a cursive name written inside—E. T. Gackenheimer.
She didn’t purchase the book initially. Instead, she went home and did a Google search on the web. To her surprise, she found considerable information about the life and ministry of Mr. Gackenheimer. Eventually she was able to contact his relatives and then mail his Bible to them up in North Georgia.
A scratch on the front and the unique handwritten signature on the inside confirmed the Bible’s authenticity. Audrey Henson, E. T.’s 76-year-old daughter said seeing her daddy’s Bible for the first time after all of those years was “very meaningful, very emotional.”/1
“Very meaningful, very emotional.” Ponder those words and then go back with me in your memory to an ancient ruler of Judah and another lost Bible.
Josiah had reigned for eighteen years (2 Kings. 22:3). At this particular juncture in his administration, the young king ordered repairs to the temple and an accounting of the monies therein (vv. 3-7).
During this period of “house-cleaning,” the high priest Hilkiah, somewhat like Stephanie Garcia, happened upon the the Law (v. 8) of Moses. The book had been missing for perhaps as many as fifty-seven-years. Hilkiah then passed the once lost text on to a scribe by the name of Shaphan, who in turn read it before Josiah (v. 10).
When the monarch heard God’s Word, Scripture says he wept (v. 19) and tore his clothes (v. 11). Think “very meaningful, very emotional.” He then ordered the Book of the Law to be read aloud before the entire nation (2 Kgs. 23:1-2).
Josiah recognized that Jehovah’s will had not been followed and ordered that true worship be restored in Judah (vv. 3ff). He then instigated a thorough overhaul of the religious corruption of his day, and destroyed anything and everything associated with idolatry. And all of this came about because one man found a lost Bible.
How many times have you thought to yourself, “I never knew that was in the Bible!”? It was as if the sacred text had somehow finally been found in your possession. Yes, you owned a copy of the Scriptures, perhaps more than one, but you had never taken the time to sit down and really pour over them to see what they taught.
Maybe your Bible laid under a layer of dust in some forgotten shelf near the TV. And only when you had heard a particular sermon, or found yourself in the throes of great adversity, did you really “find your Bible” and realize that your worship was vain and your life was not in harmony with the Law of Christ.
Restoration and legitimate change began only when folks back in Josiah’s day found and read the Bible. This ought to tell us something.
Dear reader, do you know where your Bible is located right now? Can you put your hand on it at this very instant? Has it somehow been lost in stacks of old books and outdated reading materials in your home? When was the last time you sat down and read God’s Word?
Locate your Bible and start reading. You’ll find it “very meaningful, very emotional.” I promise.
1/ Chattanooga Times Free Press, July 9, 2009, A1, A7.