March 26, 2006

My Bible's Sojourn

I love my Bible.

It’s not just any Bible, it’s mine. It is like an extension of me….. even resembles my personality! I got it almost 16 years ago on my birthday from my husband. It is hard cover bound, so after a year or so, when it started to show its wear, I got a grey tapestry zippered cover for it. Now, after 16 years of use (I wish I could say daily use, but I’m not that disciplined) it has totally come undone from its hard cover, it is dog-eared and has little coffee stains on it. It also serves as a filing cabinet for an assortment of church bulletins and scraps of paper of all kinds, some pamphlets on becoming a Christian and one on grief, along with a few bookmarks (one from a missionary friend in Togo) and momentos.

Almost all of the bulletins and scraps of paper have Bible study notes scribbled on them. They are notes from sermons, conferences, Bible study classes, retreats and personal study. I never plan to take notes…simply because I don’t plan ahead very well, so the notes have to be put down on anything that has a margin to write in….it helps me to listen better, putting it down on paper. I may never look at that paper again or understand what it means if I did look at it, but I learn best through my eyes. So when I write something down while listening, my brain absorbs it better. (may sound complicated, but it’s just a brain thing)

I have thought about getting a new Bible many, many times (because I’m so embarrassed by it’s condition), but I just can’t give this one up. It’s familiar and comfortable to me. I may use another translation once in a while for study or contemplation, but this one is comfortable in my hands. I can find things more easily and have many important little notes jotted in the margins.

So when I came home from our ladies’ retreat, then moved into this new house and I couldn’t find my Bible, I was a little worried. I had a full scale search going through the house, drawers, boxes, cabinets, shelves, cars. I asked some friends who I had ridden with if they could look in their cars. I called my friend who’s house we stayed at during the move to see if she had found it.

Nothing….it was gone….=(

I got out my old Bible from my teen and college years and used it. It was actually my mom’s Bible before it was mine and it has her name embosses on the front. It is also hard bound, but has fake leather-looking material on it that is now crunchy feeling with age….ew. I enjoyed using it, finding my old study notes from those years, learning from my home church pastor, youth retreats, college conferences and classes.

Because I had about given up on finding it, I began looking through the CBD catalog for a new Bible.

Then a little over a week ago, I got a phone call….

“Hello, is this Christie L***?”

“Yes,” I said, thinking it was yet another phone solicitor targeting new move ins.

“You don’t know me, but I have your Bible. And I’m in New York.”

*picture me here with my mouth hanging open and starting to laugh in amazement*

It turns out that my Bible had slipped under the front seat of the moving truck and stowed away, undetected, until it arrived in upstate New York! (funny thing is, I never stepped foot in that moving truck, so I don’t know how it got there) She told me that she had been cleaning out the truck after moving from Phoenix to New York and had thrown away some things, like a few clothing items (which solved a mystery Emma was having about some missing clothing) but when she came across the Bible, she opened it and began leafing through it. Now, you could leaf through my Bible for days without coming up for air, it’s just that way, what with all the notes and cool stuff to look at. And that is just what she did! She apologized for going through my things, but I said I didn’t mind at all. I was glad she enjoyed it and I was so excited that she actually took the time to look for me! After reading various notes, she decided she had to find me. So with just my name and my husband’s name, and knowing we might be in the Phoenix area, she tracked us down. She thanked me for leaving that Bible in the truck and said it had ministered so much to her. Some of the notes were exactly what she needed to hear and encouraged her to get closer to the Lord again and to find a church. (WOW) Then she asked if she could keep it for a few more days, so that she could copy down some of the notes….of course I said yes. I was so amazed that a simple ‘mistake’ (and result of my frenetic disorganization) could turn out bringing someone closer to God. It was all masterfully orchestrated.

My Bible went on a mission trip!!

The last thing I had put in my file…er, Bible….was the notes from the ladies’ retreat I had been on with this new church, the same weekend we were moving. So I pretty much new the notes she was talking about. They were just what I had needed to hear too at the retreat. They were the notes from the Bible studies on Joseph’s life….about how God uses the hard things in our lives to develop deeper character. Then He uses the stronger character in us to serve Him in greater ways. It was a God-inspired type of Bible study that Jan Shrader had led that weekend, and its influence was felt across the country!

When I saw the mailman at my door the other day, holding a large mailing envelope, I knew it was my Bible. I tore it open to find out if there was a letter or anything in it to find out more about this woman who had shared some of my very personal notes. There was no letter, but she had put inside the cover a brand new note pad! Maybe she is one of those well prepared people and likes things organized, so my ‘system’ probably had her shaking her head. Ha…=)

I am so glad to have my Bible back…..but I am so glad to have ‘lost’ it for a while. It did good work.

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