Do you remember your first Bible? I don’t. I know, I’m a missionary kid, born in the Bible belt and raised in Awana, but I really don’t remember anything about that first Bible.
I do, however, remember the first Bible that made an impact on my life. It’s hard to forget: I bought my forest green bonded leather NIV in 10th grade from my boarding school’s vice principal. I technically bought it for Bible class, but I began reading it all the time. I can still remember laying in the top bunk of my tiny dorm room, on my periwinkle-colored comforter, reading my Bible and writing in my first-ever journal. (The journal was bright green with a daisy in the middle of the cover, and was a gift from my mom when she and dad took me to boarding school.)
Somewhere in the shuffle and aspirations of becoming a progressive liberal-arts college student, I set aside my dark green NIV for other, newer versions of the Bible. But thanks to some recent projects for work, I retrieved my dusty old companion from its forlorn location and opened it for the first time in years.
I am amazed. The notes I wrote in the margins! So much underlining on so many pages. The worn gold leaf. These pages are precious to me, reminders of my journey with God, testimonies of his everlasting faithfulness.
While thumbing through the Psalms, I came across a note written under the heading of Psalm 46: “June 8, 2003.” That was the Sunday following my high school graduation. I will not regale you with memories from that weekend for fear that you will spend the rest of your day in weepy sadness. That weekend marked the end of something beautiful for me and my friends; it meant the end of a community of dorm brothers and sisters, friends become family, soon to be dispersed to universities around the globe. There have only been, thank the Lord, three times of intense grief and loss in my life; that weekend was one of them.
That weekend, Psalm 46 became for me a prayer and a cry to God, and has since become a testament to his goodness and faithfulness. During the darkest days of my life, during storms and battles and deserts, God has been with me. And he will not let me go.
For your encouragement and my joy, here is what I underlined that heartsick Sunday. Are you grieving and downcast? Take heart, my friend.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.