Antonio lived in a leper colony. He had been there for years and years. Antonio was a leper. Nothing had been able to stop the disease.
Yet Antonio was a happy leper. For one thing, he was a Christian. For a second reason, he could read, and none of the other lepers could do that. For a third thing, he had a Bible. Antonio's greatest joy was to read the Bible to other lepers.
One day he noticed that he was having trouble reading. His eyes bothered him. It was not long before he became very anxious about it. The doctor looked at his eyes. He spoke very slowly, as though he hated to let the words come from his lips. "You are going blind, Antonio. There is nothing I can do about it."
Antonio sat still, as if he were frozen. Blind! He would be a blind leper! No longer would he be able to find his way from hut to hut carrying his Bible. No longer would he be able to read to the other lepers from its precious pages.
For days Antonio sat in miserable silence. How could he bear it? But one day a thought came to him. His eyes were getting dim, but he was not yet blind. His mind was as clear as ever. "I can learn some of the Bible," thought Antonio. "Then, when I am blind, I can still find my way from house to house and I can recite the words of the Bible to my friends who love to hear them."
He took his Bible in his hands. What part should I choose first? Antonio turned page after page. How he loved this psalm! How majestic were these words from Isaiah! What a wonderful teaching Jesus gave in this chapter! The story of Paul was so loved by his comrades! What should he learn first?
Antonio murmured, "Which has a place in my heart? Which verses are worth putting there forever?" He chose first one passage, then another, and a third. He began to learn the first passage. He worked hard. Soon- because it does not take long to learn what you want to- he could say it without a mistake. He began on the second. Not long after, he was working on the third.
When his friends heard what he was doing, they began to hobble to his hut.
"Antonio," an old man said, "are you learning the Eighth Psalm? Because I must have that one."
"Not yet," said Antonio, "but I will learn it next."
The old man went away satisfied, and a group of children came running up.
"Learn about Jesus and the children," they begged. "Learn about the shepherds and the wise men."
"I will learn, and you must learn with me," said Antonio.
"Are you learning about the Ten Commandments?" asked a father.
"It is on my list," answered Antonio.
"We must have the Shepherd Psalm," said one of the mothers.
"I have already learned it," smiled Antonio.
"Do you know the words of Jesus about the heavenly home?" asked an old woman. She was suffering a great deal, and how she loved Jesus' words about God's house in which there would be room for all!
"I will learn it," promised Antonio.
So, day after day, he put into his heart and his mind Bible passages that those leper Christians loved.
As his eyes became dimmer, he read less and spent more time learning. Then at last came the day to which he had looked forward with such sorrow. When he opened his Bible, not a single word could he make out.
But somehow he was not as sad as he had thought he would be. "The days of learning are over," he said to himself. "Now I can give the messages to others."
Antonio could still see enough to find his way to the huts of his friends. With the clear sunlight falling on his smiling face, he went forth. As he came to the hut of his nearest friend, the same old greeting rang out that he had heard so often.
"Antonio is come! Antonio is here! He will speak from God's Word! Welcome! Welcome!"
Antonio sat down. His useless eyes could no longer see to read. But his voice was firm as he began to repeat verse after beloved verse from the book he loved most.
"When God's Word is in our hearts, it is good," he said.
And those gathered around to hear agreed with him. "God's Word in our hearts. That is good."
This was from Jordyn's school lesson today and it just hit me. I should be hiding God's Word in my heart. That task is not just for kids and pastors. Are you hiding God's Word in your heart?