Battered, Burned and Still Held Together: Visiting the Museum of the Bible

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Living in Washington, D.C. as I have for the past 12 years, I never want to take for granted the ease of access I have to visit our national treasures, monuments and museums —treasures that people travel thousands of miles to see and cross off their bucket lists.

With life and addressing other priorities, I had not yet had opportunity to visit the Museum of the Bible which opened this past November 2017. I truly desired to and finally did so this past July 4th weekend.

Upon clearing security and entering the museum, not to be irreverent but I felt like a kid in a candy store! You encounter families and individuals who are just as excited as you to learn about the Bible’s global impact and influence. Psalm 119:105 “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” greets you on the marble wall before beginning your tour. Throughout the museum’s six floors of exploration and admiration, you will see how this Psalm held true in the quotes given by abolitionists, ministers, members of Congress and government and other influentials who share how the Word of God shaped their lives, decisions and work.

Museum of the Bible introduction

I took great joy in reading about God’s people positioned throughout time who spoke His Word boldly and unabashedly to stir hearts and spirits. There were times in America’s and the world’s history–times of George Whitfield, an American Anglican priest in the 1740s during America’s “Great Awakening–and Charles Spurgeon, an English Baptist preacher in the mid-1800s–where people would crowd streets, churches and theaters, pressing their way to hear the Gospel, thirsty to receive the Good News. They were receptive to a word of encouragement, instruction or rebuke–to be awoken from their slumber of indifference. No candy-coated messages that so proliferate today to comfortably keep people in a spiritual slumber of indifference. As Whitfield said, “I love those that thunder out the word…the Christian world is in a deep sleep. Nothing but a loud voice can awaken them out if it.” (1739). Reading these words excited me and reminded me of another passionate “preacher”/abolitionist, William Wilberforce (1759-1833), who pulled no punches when writing his book Real Christianity, whereupon he called for Christians to forgo cultural Christianity and truly pursue authentic faith. I wrote about it here.

During my three-hour visit (you will need more time than this; I plan to return to finish), I saw several captivating exhibits: a pile of blackened, still-held-together bibles burned by those who rejected the truth. Many scrolls–some in pristine condition, and others tattered and worn to pieces by weathering and water – were written in various languages telling of His Word. Hundreds of bibles passed down through the generations with clasps and jeweled covers or worn leather, still held together. I imagined the journey each of these precious books traveled to reach us today. I imagined what storms those books endured and how those words of hope sustained its readers in their times of trial.

Museum of the Bible bible

I could go on! However, I will keep this post brief as I do not want to spoil your visit! I hope you are able to visit the Museum of the Bible–it is a “must do” for your bucket list.

What I can say for certain: the Word of God is sure and it endures. I looked at those burned, blackened, worn bibles, still holding together, through it all. People reading those words likely felt beat up by life, beat up like the book that was yet giving them life and holding them together. In every situation we encounter, God’s Word will indeed serve as a “lamp unto our feet and light unto our path” if we seek and trust Him.

Even in these present troubling times, and in times before, and in trials to come, you can rest assured: “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” (Isaiah 40:8

Love and blessings,

Nicole

View more photos from my Museum of the Bible visit published on our Voices Against the Grain Facebook page (posted July 9, 2018). To visit the Museum of the Bible, view their website to order your timed tickets. General adult admission/requested donation is $15 and $10 for children ages 12 and under.

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