Returned To Its Owner

December 14, 2023
Volume 27, Number 34

At a book sale in Pennsylvania earlier this month a volume was spotted which had been checked out of the Carbondale (PA) Public Library – in 1904. The book, ”The Cruise of the Esmerelda” by Harry Collingwood, was returned to the library. Still in a pocket in the back of the book was a card showing that Horace Short had checked it out.

The story carried by United Press International made no mention of an attempt to reach Mr. Short; he is almost certainly no longer with us. The library calculated the number of days the book was overdue (43,641), and then applied the fine. At the 1904 rate the fine tallied $872.82; at today’s rate the fine is a staggering $10,910.25. The library went on to note, “Mr. Short is very lucky we currently cap fines for books at $10.”

Stories like this are entertaining, but we suspect the number of books that are never returned to libraries is large. Even though this book was very late in getting back home, it eventually did.

A prophet of God was sent to King Jeroboam to denounce an altar the sinful king had built for false worship. To show that the prophet was not just spouting his own opinions, he said this: “This is the sign which the Lord has spoken: Surely the altar shall split apart, and the ashes on it shall be poured out” (1 Kings 13:3). Two verses later we are told that’s just what happened. The Lord had spoken.

Isaiah 55:10,11 establishes an important truth about words God has spoken: “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”

What does that passage in Isaiah mean? When God speaks, count on it coming to pass. Whether it be words of warning, or words of promises too good to be true – don’t doubt God. His word will not return to Him void (empty).

When we appear before God on the Day of Judgment with His words in our hands, will the record show that we believed His words? Did we believe Him to the point that we submitted to His words and obeyed them? In my case, will God’s word return to Him void? If so, that’s on me, not on God.

Peter described the day of Christ’s second coming in fearful detail, and then added this: “Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness?” (2 Peter 3:11). That’s a sobering thought. While God has done so much for me, what am I giving Him in return? The book of my life will be returned to Heaven’s library one day. While I still have time to make changes, let me be sure to write “Jesus Christ” on today’s page.

Come to the light God offers!  Study His word, the Bible.  Worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:24).  Get in touch with us if you’d like to discuss these ideas further.


Copyright, 2023, Timothy D. Hall. All scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from the New King James Version (Copyright, 1990, Thomas Nelson, Inc.).

“LightGrams” is produced by the Central Church of Christ, 2722 Oakland Avenue, Johnson City, Tennessee, 37601, and is written by Tim Hall, minister. It is sent free of charge every Thursday to all who request it. To subscribe or to receive more information, write to “” (our E-mail address), to the U.S. mail address above, or call (423) 282-1571.

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