How My Worn Out Bible Reflects My Soul
Sitting around the dinner table with my aunt, uncle, and cousins many years ago, I tried to show off my Christian self. I had to let them know how wise and spiritual I had become. The conversation had turned to church and bibles.
“Oh yes,” I assured Aunt Colleen. “I attend church every week.”
“Do you have a bible?” she asked me, and then she followed up with, “What version?” after I nodded agreeably with her.
What version? What version. Ummmm… I’m positive I had a bible so I hadn’t lied about that. However, I couldn’t remember the last time I’d picked it up much less opened the cover and actually read anything in it.
“The King David version,” I blurted out. The room fell silent (such a cliche, but in this case it was true).
I knew I’d said something wrong when everyone turned and stared. I wanted to slip down in my chair and hide under the table.
Since then, I’ve learned a bit more about the different translations of the bible. Later in my teen years, my parents gave me a beautifully bound King James bible with my name embossed on the front. I carried that bible with me to church and church camp for years and took very good care of it. No spills, marks, or smudges were allowed. Staring at the pages, I read scripture and tried to understand. For where I was at the time, I did okay. Years passed, and that bible got tucked safely away where it could stay beautiful. On the outside.
Life happened in its ebbs and flows – good times and bad – never anything toooo good or toooo bad. It was just…life. Things were just fine, good even. I had no real complaints.
And then my best friend died, and I lost myself completely.
My 20-year-old beautifully bound King James bible came out of the box. It was still just so pretty. I opened it but didn’t dare wrinkle or smudge pages. I tried reading verses but found myself just repeating words over and over. I needed more.
I expressed interest in my pastor’s Contemporary English Version one day after he shared a few verses with me. A few days later, he presented me with my own copy. I held it to my chest and felt home. I don’t know what my connection was with it, maybe it just felt down to earth and real to me, something I could relate to, nothing too fancy that I didn’t feel good enough for. Don’t get me wrong – I know the Word is the Word. I just needed to find what was right for ME.
As I searched for answers to my meaning and purpose in life, I inhaled that bible. Back and forth through the pages I flipped, highlighting passages, writing in the margins, sticking blue arrow post-its everywhere I found something encouraging.
Where my King James bible had always been beautiful to me from the outside, I hadn’t truly seen the inside and the beauty held there.
With my contemporary version, I found the depth of the Word. I found God’s beauty, not in the never-marred deep red, name embossed cover, but in the promises He gave, in the hope, peace, love, and joy I found.
At bible study one night, a friend exclaimed, “How can you write in your bible? I could never write in my bible…in any of my books.”
I tried to explain it wasn’t just a book to me…not like my previous bible had been. It was my soul, the Word, God’s promises to me that my life, that all life has purpose and meaning. That life is eternal. That our loved ones’ lives meant something and still do.
My bible became me, or rather I became it. I inhaled it. The need to breathe in every word of it and store it inside of me compelled me.
I couldn’t just read it. I had to be it.
The difference between the two for me had to do with trying to find God on the outside of me… seeing Him in the beauty of my perfectly preserved King James bible but missing the depth of Him by not realizing He’s also in the torn-up, written on, wrinkled pages inside of me. Those places are where I truly connect with Him and learn who He is in me.
Yes, these worn out, written on, wrinkled-up pages of my Bible reflect my soul. They are who I am. They’re me in all my strife, struggle, beauty, joy, life, love.
None of us inhales Him in the same way. Each finds her own relationship with Christ, breathes Him in, and lets Him live through her.
What’s your Contemporary English Version? I pray it’s not the made-up, spur of the moment, don’t really live my faith King David version I tried to impress with as a child but instead a real (no matter what version) living anchor of God’s Word which can fill you and show you how to live in Christ.