You can learn so much by studying someone’s Bible.
In it, they leave clues regarding personal practices. When possible, I love to use someone’s personal Bible when preaching his or her funeral. It is a special connection. That proved to be true yet again while holding Stoney’s Bible.
Stoney Huggins passed away at 88. I had the privilege of ministering at his memorial service. He was a church member, grandfather figure, and special friend. Ever since I knew him, he was a source of encouragement and an incredible example of a man who loved to study and teach the Word.
His Last Bible Study
As I prepared my remarks for his service, I thumbed through his Bible. His marker was left on 2 Samuel 13. That was the place of his last Bible study he taught 3 weeks ago at our church on Wednesday night. He had a goal to get through 1-2 Samuel. His insightful notes were handwritten and a joy to read.
As Stoney’s sickness progressed, his major concern was being unable to study or teach the Bible. He told me that he wanted to keep teaching as long as he could, but he didn’t want to do it if the people didn’t want him to teach. He told me, “I’ve been telling people at this church for years that you need to persevere when times get hard, and I don’t want to be a hypocrite. If you will let me teach, I’ll keep teaching until I can’t teach anymore.”
There wasn’t even a discussion. He taught all the way to 2 Samuel 13. As I thought through his service that morning, I thought it was such a shame that he was unable to finish the book. So I read the last chapter and found out that he had taught 2 Samuel 24.
He never got to prepare the outline, but he had taught it with his life.
The passage is about when King David was instructed by God to purchase a particular location to build an altar and plead with the LORD for deliverance for himself and the people. As the man saw the king approaching, he eagerly told him that he could have whatever he needed at no cost. David told the man that he would not offer to God anything that cost him nothing.
And the book ends.
A life who is aware of the forgiveness of God and wants to offer God something of substance could not be a better description of my brother Stoney. As I taught through that passage, I went a few pages over to the last words of David in 1 Kings 2 where a father charged his sons to obey the Word with their lives. What a legacy. What a charge. What a living example.
His Last Study Bible
I sat my children down and told them to look at Mr. Stoney’s Bible before we went to the service. “Kids, Mr. Stoney was 88 years old when he passed away. I want you to look at the shape of his Bible. As you notice how worn it is, how long do you think he had it? Look at the writing fading on the side. Notice the crinkled pages. Do you see how the edges are starting to crumble? How long do you think he had this Bible?”
After further study, the thought was this Bible had been his study Bible for 50 years.
We opened the dedication page and read the shocking report.
That Bible was 8 years old the very day we opened it and it looked like it had weathered 50 years of feverish study.
He had been given that Bible by friends on Valentine’s Day 8 years before. As we received the Bible from the family, it was Stoney’s 8th anniversary with it. In between the day he passed and the day of his service, this Bible and Stoney had been partners for 8 years.
How do you measure a life? You might start by seeing how much he or she treasures the Word of God. It doesn’t always mean that it looks worn, but the life sure displays the proof of it.
Out of the few verses he highlighted in his Bible, Stoney did appropriately mark 2 Timothy 2:15. Allow me to share it with you and hopefully this verse, along with Stoney’s example, will encourage you to become a lifelong student of the Word:
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Distinctive Discipleship. He is married to Amanda and the father of two sons and one daughter. Travis graduated from North Greenville University with a B.A. in Christian Studies and earned his M.Div. and D.Min. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, with his doctoral focus on family discipleship.