Some time ago, I read the following heartwarming story of a poor little boy in 1885 and a special gift that he received on his eighth Christmas. Unable to find it anywhere on the Internet, I found the book in which I originally read it and have retyped it below:
“I was eight years old. I had never seen a Christmas tree. I heard the boys and girls talking about a great time we were going to have, it was going to be in the little County Court House. Mama did not want me to go because she felt I would be disappointed if I didn’t receive anything. I pleaded with her until she let me go. In the Court House, I sat between Sam and Wylie Spencer, sons of the president of the only bank in town. The Christmas tree all lit up and Santa Claus were the greatest things I had ever seen. Sam’s and Wylie’s names were called and they received box after box. I turned to a friend close by and said, ‘I-I-I know I’m not going to get anything, but that’s alright.’ One of the children behind me leaned over and said, ‘He ain’t gonna get nothing. His Daddy’s a drunkard.’ Soon afterward someone said, ‘Frank Norris.’
“I was scared so bad, I couldn’t say, ‘Here.’ One of the children said, ‘Here he is.’ They brought me a little package all wrapped up. I looked at it. They said not to open it. Then one of the children leaned over and said, ‘Is that all you’re going to get?’ I loved it. I didn’t know what it was, but I hugged it to my heart. As soon as I got out, I broke the string and opened it. It was a little thirty cent Bible carrying an inscription on the flyleaf written in my mother’s own hand, ‘Presented to my firstborn.’
“I ran every step of the way home crying all the while. Mama asked me why I was crying. I told her the story adding how they had laughed at my clothes. Mama kissed away my tears and said that one day I would wear good clothes. I told her about, ‘Is that all you’re going to get?’ Mama replied, “Is that all? That Book tells you where you have come from and where you are going. It tells you of Jesus Christ who died for you and the day will come, my boy, when you will preach that Word around the world.’ Something happened in my soul. God was in that room. And its gone with me through my life.”
The little boy grew up to be the most famous preacher of his time, Dr. J. Frank Norris, who pastored the world’s two largest churches simultaneously – the First Baptist Church of Fort Worth, TX, and the Temple Baptist Church of Detroit, MI. Those who heard him tell the story reported that he would hold up his Bible and repeatedly ask, “Is that all? Is that all?” He then would tell how he read that little Bible through and it changed his life – and God used him to reach countless thousands in his generation with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Rasbeary family would like to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas!
The original source for this story was The Fundamentalist, January 27, 1950, as recorded in “USS WBF Sail On,” by Earl Oldham (1992).