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The Best Faith Heirloom

Countless objects are passed down from generation to generation — jewelry, clothing, candlesticks, artwork. It’s different for every family, of course — but Bibles are and can be among the most treasured of all.

In today’s technology-drenched society, we store many of our memories on cellphones. Tangible heirlooms are becoming less and less common, our keepsakes less “keep-worthy.” So it might be time to remind ourselves and others about the printed Bible as a highly worthy possession to share — a beautiful book whose pages are often marked and turned by loving, reverent hands.

“My mother didn’t have a lot of jewelry or precious goods, but her Bible still carries the literal fragrance of her perfume,” said one woman.

Never mind our own faith-driven readings of scripture that we consult regularly — the Bible also holds a prominent place in the swearing-in of our presidents and other public servants, of course. The physical word of God — as well as the living word of God (Hebrews 4:12) — still hold considerable weight in a country originally founded on Christian beliefs.

The act of reading from a physical book versus scanning from a device is vitally important, of course. A recent study sought to determine whether readers absorbed more from a tangible, handheld book or from an e-reader — and had very clear results. As lead researcher Anne Mangen of Norway’s Stavanger University said in a release, “We found that paper readers did report higher on measures having to do with empathy and transportation and immersion, and narrative coherence, than iPad readers.”

The Bible is far more than just words on a page that our parents and grandparents read years ago. The Bible offers a wealth of insight that’s available at our fingertips.

Related: That Sunday Sermon May Not Be Spiritual [1]

For Sheri Hawley, a native of Pensacola, Florida, it is her mother’s Bible, given to her as a teen, that she continues to use to this day.

“My mother carried this Bible with her at all times,” Hawley told LifeZette.

Today, as pastor of Garden Grove Church in Winter Haven, Florida, Hawley has found the marked scriptures an anchor in her personal walk of faith, particularly after her mother passed away.

“Once my mother died, suddenly anything she had touched took on great significance — I felt very connected to her and her legacy. It was almost as if she were able to reach to me and say, through those underlined passages like a channel marker or a buoy, ‘Keep going. You’re on the right track.”’

Hawley added, “My mother didn’t have a lot of jewelry or precious goods to leave to me, but her Bible still carries the literal fragrance of her perfume. Even the stains from her tears remain on those pages for me.”

Related: Older, Wiser, and Thankful to God [2]

Along with her husband, Frank, Sheri Hawley continues to prepare Bibles to pass onto their children.

Such a simple, life-giving gift as a family Bible can powerfully carry on and even begin a legacy of family faith. To equip your children or loved ones with the word of God, here are a few ways to start.

1.) Make passing down a Bible a tradition.
Growing up, my own grandparents gave each of us grandchildren a Bible by the age of 12, with a note within the opening pages that encouraged us to daily engage in Scripture, to strengthen our trust in the Lord.

2.) Prepare your own Bible to one day give away.
We don’t always consider that our personal journals or Bibles will impact anyone else — but simple notes or underlined verses may have a ripple effect on the next generation’s faith foundations.

3.) Begin to share a Bible with others no matter what your stage of life, or no matter who those others are.
Consider the people — even outside your own family — who may benefit from a Bible handed down. The Bible has the power to bring peace and comfort to others and to transform minds. Is there someone else you know whose faith may be encouraged and inspired by the gift of a personal Bible or family Bible?

Many people continue to enjoy Bible apps, scriptural software, and the like. But we mustn’t forget or overlook the actual book. It could be a true and cherished gift for someone — and influence that person’s life for many years to come.