Do you remember how old you were when you received your first Bible? What color was it? Who gave it to you? Many might remember having a children’s Bible when they were young. Maybe it was the small Bible handed out later in Sunday school. Some received a teen or adult Bible when they were confirmed.
What if you never experienced any of those gifts? My earliest and only memory of a childhood Bible was the large leather-bound one my grandma inherited from her mother. My great grandmother came to the United States from Sweden at the age of 18. The Bible sat, opened somewhere in the middle, atop a wooden pedestal in my grandma’s living room.
As a kid with a sporadic-at-best church life, I was an occasional visitor at Sunday school. My attendance depended on waking up and being outside when the church van stopped in front of my house. I was also a drop-in visitor of vacation Bible schools around town. However, no one ever gifted me a Bible. So while most Christians acquired their first Bible before starting high school, I became the proud owner of my first much later in life.
Desiring a Bible
Two things prompted my ownership of my first Bible. First and foremost, I found myself at a place in my life where I felt as though I had almost nothing else going for me. I spent most of my life believing that regular church attendance was not that important. I was a believer, but I told myself I could find worship in anything beautiful.
I still believe if you do not make it to organized worship, God will send someone to find you. There were Sunday mornings where I would look up at the huge cross at the front of the altar and tell myself, “If this is all I end up with, it will be enough.”
The second prompt that I needed scripture in my life was seeing my pastor’s Bible. His wife, who ran the youth worship program at our church, showed it off one Sunday. It looked like it had been run through a commercial laundry service hundreds of times. It was torn, tattered and faded. She was proud of her husband’s worn-out Bible, as she should have been. It occurred to me that a Bible was a personal playbook. It was not meant to sit on a wooden pedestal. It was meant to feed our souls.
Use Your Bible to Care for Your Soul
We often hear about how important it is to take care of our bodies and minds, but what about our souls? Our souls need nourishment, especially when they’re dragged through the mud by this world! Jon Bloom writes about this concept in his article, “You Become What You Eat.“
“Hope is to our soul what energy is to our body. Just like our bodies must have energy to keep going, our souls must have hope to keep going. When our body needs energy, we eat food. But when our soul needs hope, what do we feed it? Promises.”
Bloom explains the only promises that will truly provide long-lasting, substantial fuel are found in the bible—Jesus’ promises.
So, at the tender young age of 41, I purchased my own Bible. It had a pink and orange leather cover, because, well, I still care about fashion. I had no idea where to begin. I knew nothing about scripture.
Before acquiring my own physical bible, I relied solely on looking up specific scriptures on Bible Gateway, which I still use and believe is an excellent resource. However, even with my love of reading, I knew that starting at Genesis and expecting to “get it” and then finishing with Revelations was probably not a feasible plan. I remembered my grandma telling me that the middle of the Bible was a great place to spend time. So the middle it was!
Don’t Know How—or Where—to Start? Try These Methods
I was familiar with the wonderful organization called Proverbs 31 Ministries. There were 31 Proverbs, and a great way to approach them was to read whatever Proverb number coincided with the day of the month. If you did that each month for a year, you would read them through 12 times. I was delighted to learn that Proverbs were easily found simply by placing your thumb in the middle and opening. You could almost always succeed with this method.
If it is possible for pages and a leather cover to become a friend, that is what happened. My new purchase, along with the very cool Bible highlight pen, became a trusted companion. I love to use the word “nugget.” If I can glean a nugget of useful information from any book, podcast or conference, I am all about it. I went from finding nuggets to discovering rivers and oceans of comfort and understanding.
By no means am I trying to say the Bible is easy to understand, but the takeaways are unlimited for our modern lives. I began highlighting and marking extensively. As students, we are discouraged from writing in books so as not to deface them. The beauty of your Bible—and any book you own—is you can write on every page if your heart desires. For most of us who have at least some level of limited attention span, the Bible is the perfect reading—skipping around is acceptable and even encouraged.
Exploring the Old and New Testaments
While practicing the one-Proverb-a-day routine, I also began reading a Psalm or two each day. At first, I delved into the New Testament. Paul’s letters to the churches—found in Romans, Corinthians (1 and 2), Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Thessalonians (1 and 2)—were filled with timeless treasures. These writings dealt with three general issues: what Christians should know, what Christians should do with the church’s beliefs, and specific greetings and instructions. Paul also wrote to individuals, and those books of the Bible are named after who received them: Timothy (1 and 2), Titus and Philemon.
As I continued reading, I explored the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. I learned that the Gospels each tell the story of Jesus and convey good news. My personal favorite is to read the Gospel of Luke during the Christmas season.
As I ventured into the Old Testament, I found a whole new world waiting. From the creation to stories that have been adapted for children, there was a perpetual amount of teachings that awaited me. My favorite is the book of Job. He was a man who endured extreme suffering. His friends came alongside him and were just present at his side. What a lesson in community! In today’s world when friends suffer, we often feel helpless. It is good to remember that just being alongside someone, even in silence, helps. Job’s faithfulness paid off.
My favorite scripture has always been and will always be 1 Corinthians 2:9. Look it up. I am not afraid to admit there have been mornings where I simply hugged my Bible and asked for enough strength just to get through that day. There was always enough!
Passing On the Treasures
As always, God’s timing is unmatched. My Bible was marked up considerably with all my treasures. As I wondered to myself who would inherit it someday, I was told to give it away. My first instinct was to brush off this instruction. I had just gotten it the way I wanted it. I was still exploring, but it was very full of my marked findings. The instruction was nagging at me.
Within 48 hours, a good friend from work lost her young daughter unexpectedly. It was every parent’s worst nightmare. I knew right away to whom I should give my Bible. I even messaged my good friend Gena and told her what I was thinking. She immediately came back with a resounding “YES!” She even said she thought of a friend at her work who was struggling. My wonderful friend being way more creative than I, told me she planned to sew a cute cover for her own Bible and give it away.
I wrote a note explaining that it was easy to start in the middle. I told her many helpful scriptures were already highlighted. I wrote to her that God told me it was time to give it away to someone who needed it.
Every Bible I have ever seen has a “Presented To” and “From” page in the front. The page remained blank the year or so I owned it. Just before giving it away, I filled in the blanks. It made perfect sense. At first I thought it would be difficult to give away all the work I put into it, but as it turned it, it was very easy. I bought myself a new Bible and began my search all over again.
For most of us who have at least some level of limited attention span, the Bible is the perfect reading—skipping around is acceptable and even encouraged.
That first gifting experience turned into a perpetual routine. Each time I bought a new Bible for myself, I never knew how long it would be mine. Knowing when and to whom to give them away is always revealed at just the right time. One cover I particularly liked was a zebra print. I owned it just over a year.
One day while wrapping a friend and his new bride’s wedding gift, I decided to search (on Pinterest, of course) for anything I could find related to marriage. I highlighted all that I could find and included the Bible with their “date night” gift basket. My friend’s fiancé was from South Africa. I like to think the zebra print cover was perfect for them.
Give Your Bible Away—the Right Gift at the Right Time
Over the years, I have lost track of the number. Since most of my Bible giveaways went to females, it was surprising to me that I once purchased one that was rather masculine-looking. However, a couple of years later, it ended up going to a male friend who was going through a divorce.
There was a another friend who lost her dear grandmother, and I hoped my gift could bring her some comfort. Her daughter, who was a toddler at the time, recently asked her mom for a Bible as she entered high school. Her mom (my treasured friend) messaged me that she handed it down to her daughter.
There was a terminally ill relative who I specifically bought a Bible for, and I researched any scripture I could find on comfort. (I found many in the book of Isaiah.) She was quite ill by the time I could get it to her husband. I just suggested he read to her.
One of my standby wedding gifts has now become a Bible bought specifically for the bride and groom. I go through and find as much as I can about marriage. I typically include a Bible highlighter. Right now, I am enjoying my purple leather cover. Who knows how long it will be with me.
(Photo by John-Mark Smith)
Want to know more about the importance of the Bible in your life? Then listen to this podcast episode: Does the Bible Need to Be Part of Our Lives? with Steve Wiggins – 173