I think back 12 years and see a young girl, barely college age, walk into a bookstore. Heading straight to the shelf marked "Bibles", she looks around, her ignorance in this task falling hard on her soul as her eyes squint to make out the titles on the shelf above her.
She chooses. It's is white, paperback, with trees on the cover. It says something about "College" in the title and was one of the least expensive on the shelf. She buys the book and, in the car, crinkles up the pages so it looks well worn. So the others at the Bible Study might not know hers is brand new.
It was the first Bible I owned. I read it sporadically, made notes randomly and carried it everywhere. But it would never become well-loved and worn like the ones that stand before me today.
I smile faintly as I see the my favorite, the one I've had now for ten years, and I think of how many times I've run my hand of the words, as if I could drink in the glory from my fingertips.
My eyes roll over the titles and I know that first Bible, white with trees and the few sporadic notes among the purposefully folded pages, is missing from this stack.
Another memory flames bright and I see a young girl, not much older than the one who sought out the Bible in the bookstore, speaking with an almost-stranger in a jewelry store. They both sit behind the counter, the customers sporadic at best, having spent the bulk of their coin during the Christmas season that had now, quite suddenly, come to an end.
"So, why exactly did Jesus come to Earth? Just to see what it's like?" The questions erupted honest from her tongue and the girl, void of theological training and barely sure of simple answers herself, answered her the only way she knew how. She spoke simply of a Savior, muttered something about Jesus standing in the gap, and spoke plainly about sin being a condition of our souls more than individual acts during our day.
She continued to pepper the poor, ill-prepared girl with questions. She answered the best she could and drove home that night, heart aching from the empathy, spirit crushed from feelings of inadequacy.
Armed with No Wonder They Call Him The Savior by Max Lucado and the white, tree covered Bible that was one of two she now owned (due to a Christmas gift that year), she entered the jewelry story one day later. And she lent them to the curious girl.
The book was returned...but that first Bible...it was kept a little longer. And the young girl, new in her faith and unsure about a whole lot of doctrine, knew this. She would never ask for it back.
And I never did.
It was never returned...she moved away, got married after a whirlwind romance and I've not seen her since. Sometimes I wonder about the Bible, where it is, if she ever picks it up...if she's ever scoured her house looking for something else entirely and come across these words of life, etched onto paper.
And today, again, I think back to that time...think back to a gift accidentally given...and know it was no accident.
I stare at my stack...the God-breathed words of our Savior layered upon my shelf...and think about the people of Vidunda. These people have no Bible that can be accidentally given to them at a jewelry store, on the street, or anywhere else. Because no Bible contains words they can understand.
What if they had even one verse? What if they could read, in their own language, the words of our Savior? What if the Sword of the Lord would come alive in their hearts and in their lives and what if they, too, would have the privilege of scouring their house and finding His love letters poured out?
Make no mistake about it...Jesus is faithful and speaks to this ravished nation. David declares in the Psalms:
The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament shows His handiwork.
Day unto day utters speech,
And night unto night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech nor language
Where their voice is not heard.
Their line has gone out through all the earth,
And their words to the end of the world.
The people of Vidunda see God.
But imagine tears rolling silently down the face of a man reading these words for the first time. Imagine how he nods his head and whispers, in his own language, "It is true." He opens the new book, gathers his children on his lap and read them a story they have only felt in their core and seen in the heavens. Suddenly, the glory of God is manifest through words. Life-giving words that bring healing and a Sword to a people lacking both.
This is why we preach to the nations the glorious deeds of our Lord. This is why we work tirelessly in our endeavors to see God proclaimed among the nations. It is why He came. Jesus, himself, quoting Old Testament scripture, said it was so.
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord."
Today, the One Verse bloggers embarked on this project: to find every Bible we own and blog about the experience. The other bloggers' stories are linked up at My Journey to Authenticity. What about you? What if you scoured your house for every Bible you own? What would you learn? What stories would rush forth and demand to be told?