I have been thinking that it's time for me to purchase a new Bible. I admit it, I have drooled over the stacks of sleek new Bibles at the Christian Book stores. They are slim and smart looking with cheerful covers of pink and seafoam and limey green leather . They ...smell..new!
When you open the cover of my old Ryrie Study Bible, New International Version to it's cover page you see my name and FIVE addresses; four of them with big "X's" through them. But this Bible is only 21years old.....
I still have my first Bible. When I located it in the basement I looked at it's crumbling, faded blue cloth cover and thought to myself,"Hmm, that hasn't worn well." That was before I opened it to it's "Presentation Page" and was reminded that it was a gift to me from Bethel Lutheran Sunday School...Christmas 1959. It is FIFTY YEARS OLD!!!!! I still remember what a milestone it was as an eight year old to receive my very own Bible. All of it's technicolor illustrations of "Lot's Choice", "Joseph Sold By His Brothers","Ruth", and "Jesus Teaching His Disciples To Pray" are still familiar to me.
Next stop. "Presented to Joanne Christine Edquist by Bethel Lutheran Congregation, Menominee, Michigan Rev. Donald L. Berg, Pastor. January 30, 1966 Ps. 119:105"
The Confirmand's Bible. Black leather cover, gold edged pages ( now a Mercurochrome pink). The illustrations have been replaced with washed out photographs of various sites in the Holy Land and a Concordance. This Bible travelled to Fortune Lake Bible Camp with me for many happy summer weeks and was then relegated to a dorm room drawer in the college days of my "falling away". It was brought into the light of day in 1979 when God grabbed my heart at St. Michael Lutheran Church in Canton, Michigan. The new me, "reborn" and feasting on the Word. I pored over this Bible carrying it everywhere along with my journals until one fateful Christmas Eve Service. That particular night, in my efforts to shepherd our four little ones through a rain storm out to our car in the church parking lot which, as I recall, always held rain water to a consistent one inch depth due to drainage issues. With a sickening "Plop" heard over the raindrops falling on the current Baby's snowsuit ( I recall this distinctly) my Bible fell , submerged in water. (!) Bad results.
Enter my Ryrie. Almost twice the physical size and at least four times the weight of my previous Bibles...and that was before I purchased a new option at the time...a zippered, purse strapped, multi pocketed, fashionable Bible cover. It has 248 pages of additonal maps, concordance, synopsis of Bible Doctrine, Bible Archaeology, Tabernacle layout, Messianic Prophecies, Parables....well, you get the idea...definitely UNabridged add ons. It has served me well, and travels with me everywhere I go. But it's so heavy...and not pink, or seafoam or limey leather, or slim.....
THIS is what is does have...that the flashy new Bible's wouldn't have:
Outrageous highlighting, underlining and even once in awhile my own little illustrations. There are multi color inks, some of which have separated over the decades as they wicked into the pages. And the pages themselves: dog earred and curling and slightly soiled from so much use. Some Books are so often used that their pages have turned to translucent parchment, while others...the Prophets and Revelation are clearly seeing less "visitation".
There are plastic tabs at each book for quick traveling from one place to another...these are reglued, taped and re-taped, so brittle that some have split...and afew are gone all together.
(This because I have always ALWAYS had a mental block against memorization and Lutheran children in the land of Lake Woebegon did not learn the cute Sunday School song reciting the names of books of the Bible in their order that the Reformed kids in Western Michigan did!)
And there are the notes I've written in the margins over the years. These are the most dear to me. They chronicle the "good the bad and the ugly" of these decades of my life...and my family's. There are notes that recall reading a particular Psalm as the sunrises over the lake at Sandy Pines...or "the first robin of the Spring sighted today" with a date. There are dates noted of weddings and funerals. There are little prayers I have written to God, all scrawled in the narrow margins.
Here and there are questions I want to ask God when I see Him in Heaven someday. Like why He couldn't have cut His faithful servant Moses who put up with all those wretched, complaining Israelites some slack and allowed him to enter the Promised land? There are powerful Biblical lessons on parenting and self discipline that are so pertinent to my life that I have placed big red stars beside them to catch my attention whenever I slide over the page.
There are the sweet and personal places God's Holy Spirit has spoken to me through the pages of this particular book...like the realization that GOD HIMSELF was the first and most wonderful Interior Designer. I see this over and over as He describes in such beautiful detail how He wanted every thread woven, every blue tassel attached, which exotic woods to carve, which precious stones and metals to use in His Tabernacle and later His Temple. HE created color and beauty for our enjoyment and gave me the wonderful gift to work with these things to make other's environment's pleasant.
With all this, how HOW can I possibly think of replacing this heavy, old, very used Bible of mine?
.......even if there are some major portions of Ephesians, Philipians and Colossians gone...literally eaten by our two little dogs, Idgie and Scooter many years ago. (They MIGHT not BOTH be guilty of "eating the Word"...but neither one has ever 'fessed up.)
Don't ask me why, but I Googled "Girl Scout Songs" one day and suddenly found myself recalling some favorite song sung by circles of little girls with gold Brownie pins proudly attached to their cardigan sweaters.
"...new friends are silver...old friends are gold."