As we were cleaning out our old house and packing things up to move last fall we discovered a few treasures that had gone unnoticed for many years, hidden in plain sight you might say. One of those treasures was an old King James Bible that had belonged to my great-grandfather. Propped up among some other old books on one of the high shelves of the built-in book cases in our living room it was simply out of sight and out of mind. At first I didn’t know what to do with it, but didn’t feel it was proper to discard it. Its old leather binding was cracked from age, but I also noticed its pages were tattered and worn from usage as much as from age. It had been given to him as a Christmas gift by his two daughters – my grandmother and great-aunt – in 1911.
My great-grandfather, Robert Boyle, died in 1924 long before I was born, so needless to say I never knew a great deal about him. What I do know is that he was an Irish immigrant, moving his young family to the U.S. in 1889 where he established a sheep ranch in northern Texas. His grandchildren called him Grandpa, same as my grandkids refer to me, a mere coincidence but touching. In his younger days I’m told he had studied theology at the University of Edinburgh in preparation for ministry in the Presbyterian Church, so the fact he read scripture regularly comes as no surprise.
I don’t know a lot of other details about his life other than these, except that I realized something I had never considered before when I discovered his old King James Bible. My great-grandfather left a great legacy to his successors; for in reading the notes he scribbled in the margins and the verses that were dog-eared it is obvious he was a man of great character, high moral values, a student of scripture and a man of God. Now here it is a hundred years later and he’s still making a difference in people’s lives – mine in particular. What a legacy!
I wonder in this day and age if we consider our own legacies the way we should, the ones that really matter. Grandpa Boyle’s old Bible made me pause and give some thought to that. Will I leave that kind of inspired legacy that will endure a hundred years or more? I need to be thinking about that so that the generations to come might know, and the children yet unborn. As a reminder we have given his old Bible in a prominent place in our new home where it lays open to Psalm 78.