There is a legend about Jacob Brodsky, a shy Russian Jew whose father owned a successful bookstore. His father wanted him to go to college and then take over the bookstore, but Jacob was infatuated with Lila, his lovely, gregarious childhood sweetheart. They were married and moved away. However, shortly after, Jacob’s father died, so he and Lila returned home and moved into the apartment over the bookstore.
Jacob loved the books but Lila felt confined and unfulfilled. She was a gifted singer and a talent scout found her. He invited her to tour Europe with a musical company for an undetermined length of time and she happily accepted the offer, but Jacob was devastated. At their parting, he gave her a key to the bookstore. He told her, “Please keep this. You’ll come back one day and I will be waiting”. She kissed him and left.
To deal with his pain, Jacob retreated into his bookstore and took to reading books like others might take to drugs or alcohol. He spoke little and did little apart from reading book after book. Customers would find him at a desk near the back of the shop, immersed in books and reading…and waiting for his love to return.
Fifteen long years later Lila did return and entering the front door called his name. Jacob rose from the desk to see who the customer might be. As she approached he asked “Do you want a book?” Lila was startled realizing that Jacob did not recognize her. Again he asked, “Do you want a book?” She regained her composure and said, “Yes, I want a book, but I’ve forgotten the title”. Jacob asked her to recount the contents of the book to him.
Lila told Jacob that the book contained a story about childhood sweethearts who became newlyweds and lived in an apartment above a bookstore. She went on to say that the young ambitious wife left her husband to seek a career and enjoyed great success but could never forget her husband, nor relinquish the key her husband had given her when they parted. She produced and showed him the key, confident that he would recognize both the story and the key. Jacob showed no expression and gave no response!
Lila exclaimed, “You must remember! This is the story of Lila and Jacob!” Jacob looked bewildered, paused and then replied dispassionately, “There is something familiar about the story…I think it might be something written by Tolstoy.”
Lila dropped the key and fled the shop. Jacob returned to the desk, his escape capsule for 15 years, and began reading.
How could Jacob have ever forgotten Lila? Yet, he did! How can Christians ever forget Jesus? Yet, they do!
“Those who don’t grow in God’s blessings are blind. They cannot see clearly what they have. They have forgotten that they were cleansed from their past sins” (2 Peter 1:9).