Today I bought a new Bible. It’s a milestone – not because I’m overly dramatic and need to make every occasion momentous (or that might be part of it) – but because of what my last Bible represents: fourteen years of a teenage girl growing into a young woman, and God’s loving faithfulness every step of the way.
I received my first Bible on my eighth birthday – a small blue Precious Moments Bible which I proudly toted to church and Awana in my Bible bag with my name on it. I unevenly underlined verses that spoke to my small heart and childish faith, tucked in mementos from camp, and memorized my first book from that small Bible.
By the time I got to my fifteenth birthday, I knew it was high time for a new Bible, though I knew it just wouldn’t be the same. It wasn’t. The chapters and verses that I knew exactly where to find in my old Bible were all in the wrong places, the pages were stiff, and I didn’t feel intimate with it.
Flash forward fourteen years, though – and there’s never been a book so well-loved or known intimately as the ragged, dog-eared volume in front of me.
More so than the first one, this Bible has accompanied me through all of my major life events. It has traveled with me to Capernwray, to Russia, to dorm ministry on Eastern’s campus – it’s been tucked into backpacks, duffel bags, suitcases, purses – it’s been my main life source at every HYPE Retreat and Expo – and it’s been my beacon of hope when I felt like life was falling apart.
There are the silly teenager-ish things I thought were important to record on the front pages (my Elvish name?? Really?).
There are the wrinkled pages from the time water leaked on it on the plane coming home from England.
Then there are the deeper quotes that came as I grew in my faith … and so many dates jotted down next to verses that were testimonies of God’s love speaking to me on days only He knows the meaning of now.
There’s the whole list of interesting names from the OT in the back, along with a British granola bar wrapper from a hungry Bible student and a note from a grateful Russian student to whom I taught English.
There are the pages splattered with make-up from all the mornings spent memorizing Scripture while doing my face … and pages dotted with puckers from when the tears fell more than once. And all the verses underlined – so that I can flip through my Bible and know in an instant exactly where to find all the favorites.
I remember the time that someone told me they didn’t write in their Bible because it’s the Holy Word of God. To which I responded, “I respect that, but I feel like this is an interactive conversation between me and God.” And it has been … because the words of God are living and active and always ready to meet me exactly where I am. The notes I squeeze in around those verses remind me time and again of how He always meets my need with Himself.
Some days reading my Bible felt dry and ritualistic … some days it seemed to be water to a thirsty soul, aching for comfort and promise and hope. The actual Bible itself is merely onion-skin paper sewed together between faux-leather covers with a ribbon separating the pages. But the words within – those words are breathed by God Himself, and over fourteen years, they have become more and more precious to me, a ragamuffin who needs to be reminded of her need for Christ more than anything else.
Now it’s time to move on to the next chapter of God’s faithfulness in my life. That Bible was the transition-time Bible – the one that lead me from angsty teenage years to searching college-age years to satisfied-in-Christ young adult years.
It’s a beautiful testimony of His grace at work on a stubborn, prideful heart, and I know that the next Bible will be just as beautiful of a testimony as He draws me ever nearer to Himself. It will just take some time to become as familiar with its pages as I am with the previous one … but thankfully the words are already close to my heart.
One last thought … God has taught me so much in my life about unbecoming the proud, “good little Christian girl” who smugly knew all the right answers and always won at sword drills. If knowing all the right verses won me more prizes in Awana as a kid, by all means, I’d work to out-memorize everyone else.
The love of man’s praise is something I still have to actively fight every day, and so I want you to know that I don’t share this story of my Bible to be admired for my “godliness.” The only reason for this story is to point to the mercy of God in using His Word to keep me close to His heart. There is no way I could have grown in my faith these last fourteen years (twenty-four if we go back to when I was saved) unless God were supernaturally changing my heart through His Word.
For the more tattered the Bible is, the more it reveals how needy the sinner is who must cling to it daily for its grace and forgiveness. May God be praised for graciously giving us His Word by which to live. I can’t wait to walk the next part of my journey filling a new Bible with evidences of His love.