The other day I (finally) accepted the fact that my long-time study Bible needed to be replaced: the binding has come apart, pages have been detached, and Proverbs and Isaiah have become almost unreadable:
My parents gave me this Bible around my 18th birthday. The black leather cover was impeccable, the gold lining on the pages was shiny, and the cover fit perfectly.
At that time, I had not yet traveled outside of the U.S. and Canada or gone on any mission trips, I didn't have a boyfriend, and I hadn't taken any linguistics courses. I did know that I wanted to serve in some kind of mission work, that I felt increasingly drawn to Latin America, and that this new Bible was more than a kind gift - it was my guide for whatever the future held.
Twelve years later, this Bible is marked and underlined, and the cover bulges with prayer cards, pictures, cards and notes, notecards with verses, bookmarks, and more. (There is also a mosquito who met its demise somewhere in Psalm 119.) Here are just a few:
I have taken this Bible with me to 13 countries and on airplanes, trains, buses, taxis, pick-up truck beds, canoes, and the back of a burro climbing a mountain path. With adventures, transitions, new roommates, and good-byes, it has represented God's faithfulness and that His Word is unchangingly true, His presence unendingly constant, and His message deeply needed at any time, in any culture, and in any circumstance - whether accompanied by optimism and a morning cup of coffee, or questions and Kleenex (actually, a roll of toilet paper in most places!) in the middle of a sleepless night.
I have tucked away evidences of God's faithfulness in this Bible that remind me of His good gifts and prevailing purposes:
- A tiny hand-sewn Cuban flag.
- A stand-by plane ticket that gave me the last available seat just in time.
- Notes from linguistics students from Mexico, El Salvador, Brazil and Peru, some of whom are now learning Hindi, Mandarin, and Nahuatl as they serve around the world.
- Small cards from unforgettable people who have hosted me and welcomed me into their communities in Mayan towns in Guatemala, or in capital cities.
Here is my new Bible:
See how the pages are clean and intact? (And I doubt there are any mosquitoes trapped inside yet.)
I am looking forward to the next leg of the journey.