My oldest son found entertainment during Sunday morning worship by turning the pages of my Bible. I suppose his ritual provided a pleasing alternative to listening to the message. He made a game of hunting for any pages unmarked. He rarely succeeded.
“Mom, there’s not one page in here you haven’t marked.”
Yes, I do love my Bible. It was a wedding gift from my husband on our wedding night. And here’s how that went down…
The church where we met had a bookstore. One afternoon after the service I discovered a boxed, amethyst NIV Study Bible that I wanted. It was the only one in that color. Soon after, I showed it to my beloved, flashing my eyelashes as we approached the shelf. Only it was gone! Unbeknownst to moi’ he’d already purchased that way-cool collection of God’s holy Word, a gift for his almost-bride.
Anticipating our up-coming marriage he had my first and soon-to-be last name engraved on the cover.
My new last name in print, on the front of God’s Word.
In gold script.
Then stealthily slipped it into the nightstand in the hotel room where we spent our first evening.
He said, “I thought we could read the Bible.”
I collected a few crumbs of grace, spoke with semi-forced gentle tone. “What, uh now?” And strategically muted secret thoughts bubbling from my dark side (“Are you nuts? You saw me gliding up the aisle in white satin, my face hidden behind a veil. I’ve earned this evening. Let’s get on with it.)
My husband remained resolute. I reached for the Gideon. And joy! There it was, that same, lovely amethyst NIV Study Bible.
Since then I’ve read the thing quite a bit. It’s been through several years of Bible Study Fellowship (https://www.bsfinternational.org), woman’s Bible studies. It accompanies me to Sunday school, to weekly worship. I’ve taught it’s truths to my children, shared portions of scripture to encourage a friend. I’ve inked significant dates, placed initials in the margins, highlighted transforming text. Dried tears have wrinkled many of it pages.
My children’s life verses are each clearly identified … lest they should forget. And they’ve even added markings of their own, the likes of stick-figure art using various highlighters.
A moment’s pause for sniffling and a quick tug on my tissue box…
In time the faux leather cover of my wedding gift proved to be just that: faux. It began to lose durability with rapid speed.
At my husband’s insistence several years ago I invested in having that Bible rebound. Its cover, a rich burgundy, now boasts of genuine leather. It’s pages are firmly fastened. Even I Corinthians 13…because I needed the reminder that love is not easily angered and keeps no record of wrongs (vs 5).
So I’ve continued scribbling, marking, initialing, highlighting.
A dear friend spoke of my Bible as though gazing at Solomon’s treasure. Her eyes danced. “Oh Mary, I just love your Bible.”
Okay, so I have a well-worn Bible. So what?
Just how many times can one highlight the same text?
If I have knowledge of scripture but have not love…
If passages are highlighted, inked, starred, and circled but my heart remains the same…
If I have faith but no fruit…
If I’ve committed to memory, ‘Give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus’, yet continue to grumble when my rock remains dry as a rock…
Then, so what?
The lyrics to one of my fave songs, Live Like That, by Sidewalk Prophets, grips my heart:
Do I live like your love is true?
People pass, but even if they don’t know my name,
Is there evidence that I’ve been changed?
When they see me do they see You?
I want to live like that –
And give it all I have –
So that everything I say and do points to You
Yes, my Bible is well-worn. Check. I’ve made myself a student of its content. Check. But unless the Word is acted upon then, so what?