The Coal Basket
A Modern Parable on Reading the Bible
The story is told of an old man who lived on a farm in the mountains
of eastern Kentucky with his young grandson.
Each morning, Grandpa was up early sitting at the kitchen table
reading from his old worn-out Bible.
His grandson who wanted to be just like him tried to imitate him in any way he could.
One day the grandson asked,
"Papa, I try to read the Bible just like you but I don't understand it,
and what I do understand I forget as soon as I close the book.
What good does reading the Bible do?"
The Grandfather quietly turned from putting coal in the stove and said,
"Take this coal basket down to the river and bring back a basket of water."
The boy did as he was told, even though all the water leaked out
before he could get back to the house.
The grandfather laughed and said, "You will have to move a little faster next time,"
and sent him back to the river with the basket to try again.
This time the boy ran faster, but again the basket was empty before he returned home.
Out of breath, he told his grandfather that it was "impossible to carry water in a basket,"
and he went to get a bucket instead. The old man said, "I don't want a bucket of water.
I want a basket of water. You can do this. You're just not trying hard enough,"
and he went out the door to watch the boy try again.
At this point, the boy knew it was impossible,
but he wanted to show his grandfather that even if he ran as fast as he could,
the water would leak out before he got far at all.
The boy scooped the water and ran hard,
but when he reached his grandfather the basket was again empty.
Out of breath, he said, "See Papa, it's useless!"
The old man said, "So you think it is useless?
Look at the basket."
The boy looked at the basket
and for the first time he realized that the basket looked different.
Instead of a dirty old coal basket, it was clean.
"Son, that's what happens when you read the Bible.
You might not understand or remember everything,
but when you read it, it will change you from the inside out."
That is the work of God in our lives . . .
to change us from the inside out
and to slowly transform us into the image of His Son.
For the word of God is living and active.
Sharper than any double-edged sword,
it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow;
it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight.
Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
Hebrews 4:12 - 13
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