Not just idle words

Where is your Bible? Do you keep it in a special place? What color is it?

I grew up in a home with a large, heavy, white family Bible with gold lettering on the cover.

I remember it having a lot of spaces in the front to list births, marriages, deaths and other such family history. As I think back, I don’t believe we ever bothered to write in those spaces. I also don’t remember ever dusting it off and actually reading any of it. It seems we treated the Bible with respect as some kind of heirloom piece that we shouldn’t mess up by crinkling its pages and wearing the gold letters off the fancy cover. But our respect was never given to what was on the inside. I don’t think we ever knew the words hidden beneath the decorations were really the whole point of the thing.

My mother always said we were Baptists. I never really knew why. When I would ask why (and I would always ask) she would say, “Because that’s what we are.” I still didn’t get it. I had never been baptized. I don’t remember any of us being baptized. We never belonged to a church, Baptist or otherwise. We rarely visited a church.

I have to give my mom credit though; those were Baptist churches we visited, Southern Baptist, I believe. It seems our denominational allegiances were a lot like our family Bible. I guess we needed to cling to something religious. Our claim to a nice-sounding church-going, God-fearing title like Baptist or owning a nice-looking holy book had to count for something.

I don’t blame my mother for my growing up without a solid spiritual background. She loved her four children more than she did herself. She invested her life in us. She worked hard providing for us after getting divorced. I cannot blame her for what she didn’t know.

I became a Christian when I was 26-years-old while attending a Walk to Emmaus weekend. It was soon after this, that I got my first personal Bible. It was May 25, 1993. (I know because it’s written in the front pages. Not only did I look, I read them.) My soon-to-be mother-in-law took me out and helped me pick my new Bible out. It was navy blue leather with silver guilded binding. It was a good size for holding and reading and it felt nice in my hands.

This blue Bible began my love affair with God’s Word. I would open it up and read it and be amazed at how the words seem to cut through the layers of stuff I had built up. It spoke to my heart in a way I cannot fully describe. And yet, at the same time, I didn’t understand most of it. It was such a strange paradox. I loved this book, yet I would read it and not have a clue what I just read. But then again, I’d read it and be so enlightened about something that I would be breathless. I still get that way today: perplexed one minute, convicted of my sins the next and then utterly in awe of what a great God we have.

Along with my first Bible, I’ve started a collection of them. I can’t seem to resist a new Bible. I love the smell and the sound of cracking open a new Bible for the first time. There’s nothing like it. I now have more Bibles than I have space for. I have lots of study Bibles, Bibles of various translations, kids’ Bibles and even virtual Bibles on my computer. But it’s not about how many Bibles I have, it’s about whether I actually read any of them. Because only by reading the Bible, can I begin to know what it says.

The Bible is God’s great gift to us. In it, He reveals to us Who He is, who we are and what He wants us to be and do. Yes, it can be hard to understand, confusing, and even seem contradictory, but it is our way of getting to know God, the Creator of the universe and everything in it. Knowing God and His Word and His love can guide us through this frequently hard to live world.

The Bible is our foundation for living. Moses said of the words in the Bible,“They are not just idle words for you - they are your life.” Deuteronomy 32:47a (NIV)

Even though my mother spent most of her life not knowing what it meant to know Jesus, she told her children just a few months before passing away in 2003 that she had indeed seen the “light” and had become a Christian. I have the comfort of knowing my mother is receiving her heavenly reward. How do I know? I read it in the Bible. I’ll be the first one to admit that I’m a long way from where I should be in knowing God and obeying Him. But I thank God for all I do know and all that He has revealed to me through His Word.

I bet there’s something you need to know from God. I bet you need to be comforted in some way. I bet you need to know with certainty that God loves you and has a plan for you, a good plan. I bet you need to know the truth. I encourage you to read the Bible, seek God and see what He is saying to you. I urge you to make a commitment to read it regularly and get to know God. Hey...I even challenge you to bring your Bible to church.

Where’s your Bible? Do you keep it in a special place? What color is it? Can you find it before Sunday?