Saturday, October 22, 2011

my B - I -B - L - E

Years ago Mom and Dad said they were limited on funds for Christmas. They asked us if it was alright if they gave each of the six of us kids $35.00 for Christmas. It might've been 30, but for some reason 35 is the number that surfaces.

At that time Irene was dating a young man who was trying to work his way to seminary. It seemed appropriate that he was working his way to becoming a preacher by selling Bibles. Knowing Emory, I know that he'd rather had given them away, but he was on a mission from God.

I took great interest in his product, seeing how the only Bible I had been given was a standard Lord's army issue Bible that was given to me by the church as a very young boy.  I figured if I wanted to be a serious Christian, I needed a serious Bible.

I knew what my Christmas was going to be before mom and dad had clipped the envelopes of money to the tree that Christmas Eve. I was going to spend every dime on a sharp looking sword. I told Emory that I wanted to buy one of those Bibles from him.  He pulled out his sales material and showed me some pamphlets and a few samples he carried with him.   I was very impressed with his large selection.  At the time I felt it was the most important decision I was making in my entire life.

I chose a leather bound oxblood Thompson Chain Reference Bible.  I opted to have my name imprinted (in Helvetica) on the front cover in gold.  I also ordered my Bible pages in gold leaf. It was a red letter edition, meaning every thing Jesus said popped right off the pages.  I also ordered my Bible with each chapter tabbed.  I didn't want to find myself in spiritual combat fumbling around with my sidearm.  I wanted to be quick to draw from the Word of God!

I was very proud of my Bible.  I didn't know what a concordance was at that time, but mine had one of those too.  I figured if the warfare got too intense, I could probably  bash my way out of any close combat situation with such a big volume.  I was good to go.

My favorite chapter is what has been called 'the love chapter' - 1 Corinthians 13.  I ALWAYS had a bookmark there.  I would read it over and over again and never tired of it.  I still don't.  Did I say I was proud of my Bible?  It bears repeating.  I had colored pencils and colored pens and studied my Bible religiously.  I would mark up the text that I thought were the most important parts.  I soon realized that my Bible was soon becoming a coloring book because every line in it was important.

About six months later the Finlayson family all drove down to camp in Florida.  It was a holiness camp that lasted 10 days of each Summer.  Of course I took my Bible with me.  It was a fine looking book and I thought it brought a lot of attention to my faith.  For some reason I thought it qualified me a Christian and somewhat of a theological scholar.  I was just a kid and my passion for God was very real, but I hadn't lived enough as a Christian to understand that humility is an essential part of the walk.  Still almost 40 years later, I still find myself stumbling over the essential stuff.  I look back and appreciate God's grace throughout my journey here on Earth.

While at camp, I stayed in the boys dorm.  At camp you had to bring your own fan if you wanted to have a chance at a cool breeze during the night.  You also had to bring your own bug repellant too.  Everyone had to prop the fan in a window by their bunk and take the good (breeze) with the bad (bugs).  Camp Bethlehem offered no comforts - just God stuff.

Every night we all gathered upstairs before lights out for a devotional.  It was usually hot and stuffy in the dorm.  We sat around in a big tight circle and sang songs, heard a word, prayed over each other, and would go around and share stuff.

I was going to share from the book of I Corinthians that particular night.  I had my beautiful deluxe Bible opened and ready to dispense very deep wisdom and enlightenment about love.  One boy would share and then the next boy would share, and then the next boy would share.  A lot of God stuff went on at camp and everyone had something to share at the end of each day.  I wasn't listening  to them though.  I was absorbed in more important things, what I had to share.   I was reading over my favorite passages and thinking about what I was going to say.   I couldn't wait for MY TURN.  I held my beautiful deluxe Bible steady & ready, locked & loaded for my turn.

But just as the attention neared my position, the kid next to me looked over to me with the queerest expression.  Momentarily I pondered the strange hue of blue that colored his face.  Before I knew it, I was experiencing incoming projectile vomiting on my lap.  Well, I wished that he had vomited in my actual lap.  My beautiful deluxe Bible caught the most of it.  The kid didn't just hurl once.  He hurled three or four consecutive times before I could get out of the way.  Like a horror movie, it seemed as if he were spewing in slow motion.  And I was in a dreamlike state balked in horror, moving in slow motion as well.  I don't know what he had eaten during the course of the day, but it didn't mix well with the long hot day and back to back holiness preaching.

The aftermath wasn't pretty.  It was everything anyone could imagine it to be - sloppy, smelly, chunky, etc.  Immediately The Holy Spirit told me right then and there to forgive that kid for doing it.  How could I lose my temper in the middle of a devotion?  How could I get mad because someone threw up on the love chapter?  I had to forgive him.  It was after all the very funky stained pages that instructed me to not be easily angered and to keep no record of wrongs.  There was nothing to do but forgive him.  He was innocent and had known not not what he had done.  I put the best face on I and told him that it was okay.  I laughed about it but inside I felt sick.  My Bible was never the same after that. 

From that day on I never had any interest in fancy Bibles.  I read from a  New American Standard Bible that looks more like a text book - hard cover - no frills.  I don't like tissue thin pages with gold leaf.  I want a Bible that can weather whatever the world hurls at it.  Better yet, the best place to keep His Word is safe is inside one's heart and soul.

"My son, keep my words, and treasure my commands within you. Keep my commands and live, and my law as the apple of your eye. Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart."
-Proverbs 7:1-3
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