What’s your Bible story? It’s a question I ask often when I speak to Christian educators or lead a Ladies Retreat. It’s a beautiful thing to watch someone’s countenance change from ‘here’ to ‘then’ as he or she tells the story of their Bible. It’s a stroll down their spiritual memory lane. Listening to the ‘who’, the ‘where’, the ‘when’ and your heart can jump straight into your throat.
Just a couple of weeks ago, I broke down and bought a new bible. I wrestled with letting go of the current one, but when chunks of Genesis rested among 2 Kings, and pages from Matthew are folded into the creases of Mark, it had to be done. The CLUB345 students gave to me a gift card to Barnes & Noble last Christmas, so what better way to use their gift than for me to get a new Bible where all the books are in the order intended.
In 1968, I was 7 years old and my world was round. My parents gave me a Bible that fit perfectly under my arm as I rushed to Sunday School. It was a red-letter King James Bible with a zipper closure. This is my Starter Bible. Every name was marked and spaced phonetically so even this first-born-overachiever wouldn’t stumble if she read aloud the story of Melchizedec. In those days we could earn star stickers on a huge chart for memorizing Bible verses. So innumerable SHORT bible verses are underlined throughout. This little black bible is all that I have of my childhood. As a junior in high school, our home burned down. To the ground. Everything was lost. Everything except our Corning Ware dishes and our Bibles. In every one of my siblings’ bedrooms and my own, the only things rescued…the only things recovered…the only items with no ash…were each of our Bibles. I can still turn the pages at times and the smells of that day return.
In 1991, after resigning from serving as the Assistant Vice President of Investments at a bank in south Louisiana, I found myself standing on the stage of our local church being introduced as the new Kindergarten teacher and Teaching Supervisor at Comite Christian Academy celebrating with God for providing a way that I could earn a living and do more than just feed and clothe my kids at night. As I was being introduced, I prayed, “Lord! It doesn’t get any better than this. I am so excited about what you are going to do in our lives.” When Bob called home that night, he shared we’d been transferred to Connecticut.
We moved to New England in November. I couldn’t find red beans, Rotel tomatoes, Duke’s mayonnaise, or grits. No one spoke like me. My neighbors were polite, but hardly friendly. It snowed our second day and didn’t melt until the following April. I’d never been so cold in all my life. I was lost, and lonely. Bob and the kids gave me a hardback, red-letter New International Version Life Application Bible for my 31st birthday. This is my Young Mom & Wife Bible. The black print was God’s history with His people. If the print was red, “Jesus said.” And if the print was blue, it was God’s history with me. There is a lot of blue print. Marked up especially around Proverbs 31, 23rd Psalm, Ephesians and everywhere else a young mom and wife would go for comfort, help, encouragement, joy, and vocabulary of love and purpose. On the inside cover is a picture of #1 Son and Baby Girl just after they were baptized.
By 2001, we had been moved by Bob’s company to the Atlanta area. Our kids were in upper elementary school. We bought a home, and began serving in a church just around the corner. We’d both gone on our Emmaus Walks the year before and Bible study was part of the rhythm of our lives. I was teaching weekday preschool, beginning to present trainings and workshops all over North Georgia. My hardback Bible was in pieces and I eagerly saved my coupons and picked up a thumb-indexed, red-letter, NIV, Life Application Bible from the local Christian bookstore. One of my students gave to me a Bible cover that I still use to this day reminding me of my calling and the huge responsibility to consider myself a teacher. This is my Warrior’s Bible. There is more written in blue ink here than any other. My faith files are clear with post it notes and added material to help me bring God’s story to life for me and mine and others.
This is the Bible I soaked in tears as the Lord and I fought through spiritual warfare, when He resurrected dead places in my heart and taught me to forgive. We endured seasons of sifting and wrestling, I claimed my call, I prayed, I taught, I fought, I hid, empty nestied, and our children chose their partners for life.
Baby Girl tells me this new Bible is my New Beginnings Bible. Only time will tell of the season to come. A red-letter, NIV (1984), Life Application Bible because it’s the bible that is the same translation as our student Bibles at our church. It’s hard enough to learn God’s vocabulary when the congruency is off in teaching. My Warrior’s Bible was filled with years of Bible study teachings from a whole host of teachers, commentators, and personal experiences. It is so familiar. I can picture certain scriptures on the left top corner, or ‘in the middle of the page somewhere in John.’ As much as I miss turning the page to find familiarity, I am touched by a fresh word impressed upon me from a clean page with only His words and not my own. At least for now. When I turn the page I can be sure that Genesis is in the beginning and Revelation ends in the back of the book with “Amen.” And that’s a good thing.
What’s your Bible Story? Do your students know your Bible Story? When’s the last time you shared your Bible Story?
“Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in Your law.” Psalm 119:18
(This post was originally published in December 2015)