Have you heard the legend of the Gideon1 Bible? Legend holds that a mysterious do-gooder places $100 bills in them, for weary travelers to find, to instantly reward their reading the Bible. The bottom line: it always pays to check your hotel Bible, if there’s one available. Some hotels don’t have them.
Even though there’s an entire page on the urban legend website snopes.com dedicated to this story and its origins, I’d never heard of it, until I told someone the story of what had actually happened to me. On a cold winter day in 2011, I was surprised to find a dollar bill while reading a hotel Bible. In fact, I was so surprised, I took a picture (the photo shows the actual Bible in its page as I found it). And then I left the bill right where I’d found it, for the next reader to stumble upon.
Consider the last time you were completely surprised, opening a Bible. It could have been the last time you read it, as some perfect phrase spoke directly to you, and your situation. Maybe that happens to you so frequently you aren’t surprised by it anymore, or maybe it hasn’t happened yet.
The incident at the hotel got me thinking: what if I have the power to assist God with that surprise? In my case, I’m sure someone chose to leave that bill in that very location, like a calling card. They were telling the next reader, whom they didn’t know, “this is your money verse, consider it and take it to heart. You see, it is already paying off in cash!”
It worked; I’ve considered that verse quite a lot, since that unexpected discovery. The bill was in the middle of Proverb 4, which is about the pursuit of wisdom. Wisdom will protect you from stumbling and falling, and which will be like a crown on your head: 18 The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day. 19 But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble.” Proverb 5 warns against adultery, and the Proverb 3 has always been a favorite, including this advice: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not into your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path.”
The finding of the bill led me to reflect on wisdom. It also led me to the discovery of the legend of the Gideon Bible, when I told a friend what had happened. Had I known the Legend of the Gideon Bible, I would have considered exchanging that $1 bill for a larger one, to surprise and delight the next reader, as I had been surprised and delighted, myself.
Next time I am in a hotel, I may just plan on participating in the legend, as a mysterious do-gooder, leaving a bill in a Bible. It’s a random act, and harmless. When I do, I’ll consider the page, and the message, because it’s a “calling card,” to point the reader to what they need.
1 The Gideons are an organization that, among other things, places Bibles in hotel rooms. If you were in a hotel and saw a Bible, it was probably placed by them. Some hotels no longer offer Bibles except on request, for fear they may not be appreciated or to appear “hip.” Other hotels know many guests look for them. More about the Gideons is available at www.gideons.org.