Friday, December 14, 2012

Confessions of a Book Thief

Dear Pastor Cooper,

Our church recently moved and all my books were packed up. I have been unpacking and going through them to restock my library. I have come across a book that has been on my conscience, sort of in a good way, for over 35 years. I attended church there with my fifth grade buddy, Chris, when I was about 10 or 11 years old. Somehow, when I left the church, I took the hymnal with me. It is Hymns for the Living Church with First Baptist Church stamped on the front.

Anyway, that church service got my attention and I knew that I must serve the Lord at some point. A year or so later my older sister became a Christian. I followed her into faith in Christ as a youngster, as did my two older brothers and my younger sister. All five of us are married and serving the Lord these many years. God is good!

I always intended to return this Hymnal. After my initial years of coming to Christ, then wavering through junior high and then coming back to faith, the book was always reminding me of an unfinished business. But it languished on a shelf somewhere and was forgotten. I think I finally came across it again when I went off to college at Idaho State in Pocatello. I have a brief recollection of even stopping by the church one time to return it but the doors were locked. I suppose I could have mailed it but never did. I was thinking that by the time I was in college the church was probably not using the same hymnal. Anyway, it got packed and unpacked through the years, always with fond memories, and a little nudge that it really didn't belong to me.

I had not seen it for many years until today. I have been a pastor in Lynchburg, Virginia these past 12 years. What a surprise today as I was unpacking my boxes to come across this book.

I have lost touch with my friend, Chris, but was also reminded of the Eden family, from First Baptist, that had an immense impact on me as a child. Perhaps some of them are still in your church? I used to eat at their home often as a child and occasionally visit the church.  Their home, which was just down the street from the church, and First Baptist were a haven for me back then.

I confess my sin of 'stealing' your book so long ago. Please forgive me. I am sure you will and will probably just want me to keep the book. May I, and with a now cleared conscience? I will send a donation to the church for the book.

May the Lord bless you and keep you in Christ this Advent and Christmas Season.

Cordially in Christ,

Virgil Hurt

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