Being the Best You Can Be

A couple of years ago I read a thoughtful and quite challenging little story which has remained with me, and I’d like to share it with you. Apologies that I can’t accurately accredit it.


One day your Grandad gives you a book.
How to Be the Best Person You Can Be. You hold it reverentially, and admire its clean-cut pages, rich binding, reassuring heft. You thank him politely, and put it carefully on your shelf, well away from sticky fingers or animal licks or coffee cups. When people admire the exquisite appearance, you say proudly, ‘My Grandad gave it to me for my birthday. I love it.’

A couple of years later, Grandad asks casually, ‘How are you getting on with the book I gave you?’
‘Love it,’ you say. ‘I look at it every day and think of you. And all my friends comment on what a special book it is.’
Grandad gives you a strange look, smiles, and returns to overhauling the scale model of the planets he’s been balancing.

Six years pass by. You’re now setting up house independently. You start to sort out all your possessions. By and by you reach the books, and Grandad’s gift comes off the shelf for the first time in ages. You run your hand gently over the beautiful cover. Just as you go to put it into the box, simultaneously the phone rings and someone hammers on the door. You startle and the book slips from your hand, falling open face-down on the floor. You instantly rescue it, hoping against hope it’s unmarked, undamaged.

Drat! There’s a crumpled fold in the top corner of the page. Annoyed with yourself, you smooth it out, but the crease remains. After all these years of keeping it in pristine condition, your own carelessness has created its first blemish. You sigh. C’est la vie.

But … hang on a minute. Where did that twenty-pound note come from, there on the floor? It certainly wasn’t there before. Did you put it inside Grandad’s book for safe-keeping at some point and forget all about it? No recollection of doing so.

You take the book out of the box again and open it carefully. You turn the pages with infinite care. And there, at the beginning of each new chapter, is a pristine twenty-pound note. Ten chapters. Ten twenty-pound notes. No wonder Grandad gave you a strange look. He knew you hadn’t read about becoming the best person you could be.


God has wrapped immeasurable wealth into the pages of his book. Does he too smile wryly when we pay lip service to his gift, but don’t really look into it, or see it, or appreciate it, I wonder?


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