Mother and Father and little Amanda lived in the northern mountains of Italy around AD 700, during the time that we call the Dark Ages. The Bible was outlawed and to be caught owning or reading one meant death.
Katrina had taught Amanda the Bible since she was very little, but she had also taught her the importance of secrecy, obedience, and discretion; for one careless word could cost her life, her family's life, and perhaps even the lives of others. Amanda was thinking that if she kept memorizing like her mother did someday she might have the whole Bible memorized, when all of a sudden the sound of pounding hooves on the path to their quiet valley home broke her train of thought. She had just enough time to peek out and see the soldiers jumping off their horses in front of the door. “Mother! They're soldiers!” was all she needed to say, but she knew they were caught. The soldiers did not wait to knock but pushed the door open and stormed in.
“Where's the book?” the soldiers demanded! “You have been reported as having a Bible. Turn it over to us now.” Shocked, Amanda thought that surely they could see it lying open right there on the table, as there hadn’t been time to hide it. She looked, but the Bible was not there! Where was it? She looked at her mother but only saw her calmly putting the last pan of bread into the oven.
Turning around, mother simply said, “I don't know who could have reported such a thing. You won't find a Bible in this house. But you can search, if you like.” So the soldiers began to search. They overturned the beds, poked holes in their things, and searched every nook and cranny. They tested all the boards of the floor and the timber of the walls, but they did not find it. They looked in the firebox to see if there were any remnants of a burnt book; they looked in the oven but only saw the baking loaves of bread. Finally, in frustration and thinking it must have been a false report that they had received, they left.
Once Amanda and her mother could no longer hear the beating hooves of the horses, and still whispering from fear, Amanda said: “Mother, wherever did you put the Bible? Where is it?”
“Let me take the bread out of the oven first. I was afraid it might get too done before they left. There now, doesn't that look fine?” Katrina calmly said, holding up the first loaf. “Isn't it wonderful how the Lord always provides for our needs? Dear, we must thank the Lord for protecting us, for surely if He had not sent His angel, we would have been caught.”
“But, mother, where is the Bible? Did an angel really take it?”
“Not exactly, my dear,” Katrina answered. “But an angel did tell me what to do. Come, let us kneel and thank God for His protection.” So within that humble dwelling ascended grateful prayers for God's merciful protection. Arising from their knees, mother told Amanda that she would find out about the Bible when Father came.
Amanda eagerly awaited Father's return, for she could hardly wait to find out about the Bible! As Father entered the little house, the table was set, and in the middle of the table was a loaf of bread. Usually Father cut the bread, but this time, after prayer, mother insisted on cutting it. Reverently, as though this was the most precious thing on earth, she cut through the crust. “Mother! There's the Bible!” Amanda exclaimed in a whisper. Carefully Mother peeled the bread away from the precious book . It was unhurt and miraculously preserved.
Mother said: "When the soldiers came, I didn't have time to even think. It was as if an angel spoke to me, and my hands immediately complied. I wrapped the Bible in the bread dough and put it in the last loaf of bread and put it into the oven. I would never have been able to think of it so quickly. Surely the Lord has protected us."
The Dark Ages was definitely a fearful time in which to live. The Bible was rare and anyone owning, reading, or believing in the Bible or the truths it expressed were put to death. Dangerous it was to even be associated with anyone who had or who read a Bible. Yet there were those who were willing to sacrifice their lives and who did sacrifice their lives for God and for the truth's sake so that we may have it and read it today.
We are so blessed and so privileged to be able to read, to study, to own, and to hear the word of God. We don't have to hide the fact that we are Christians, and we don't have to live in fear of death because we have desecrated a law against the Bible. Yet, as blessed as we are, how often I have seen the Bible collecting dust on the shelf. Have we allowed the things of this world to take our attention, our time, our strength, and our love? Have we become so busy doing good things that we have failed to do the best things, such as spending time in praying, in meditating, in reading and in studying and memorizing God's word? The Bible will instruct us in the way in which we should go. It will guide and encourage us. Through it we will find a loving friend in God who will never forsake us, through peace and through storm.
There is coming a day when we will not be so privileged and so blessed to be able to hold a Bible in our hands, and to be able to read it or hear it being read to us. There is coming a day when all that we will have will be our memory. What are we filling our minds with now? Oh friend, I hope that we are so filling our minds with the word of God so that when we cannot have it in our hands, it will be in our hearts, for it will comfort us and it will strengthen us to stand firm.