Friday, October 3, 2008

Bible Dilema

This one’s kind of long, but I need some advice…

Well, I got a new Bible. It’s really kind of weird, because I’ve had it for 3 days, and after spending 3 hours (literally) picking out the “perfect Shanen Bible”, I am still not sure how I feel about it. This is why… In college I discovered the joy and intimacy with God that comes from digging in to His Word. I had an awesome Max Lucado Study Bible (my favorite author, as you can tell from looking at my Blog), that I literally tore to pieces from reading it so much. But now, it looks so sad; Isaiah is randomly placed in Psalms, Exodus lies between Obadiah and Jonah, Matthew follows the Book of Revelation – you get the point. So… as much as I love this Bible, I retired it when my parents blessed and surprised me with an Amplified Bible in 1999. Oh, how I’ve enjoyed this Bible too! I love how “amplified” it is; digging deeper into Scriptures to uncover the Greek or Hebrew meanings of specific words. So obviously, over the last 9 year, this became the new “Shanen Bible”… but once again I have torn it up (I promise I don’t do this on purpose.) Although each Chapter is still placed in the correct order as it should (unlike the other Bible), this one has still gone through the ringer; the paper binding has fallen off and is completely messed up. It looks like it was involved in a tug-of-war or run over by a car!

So, being a good steward of my favorite Bible, I did what I had to do - I took it to the Christian bookstore to have it re-bound… a nice pretty, leather-bound Bible with my name imprinted. I thought this would be perfect. Until, they called to let me know it would be over $100 to have this done. At first I thought, “I’ll pay any price. It’s my favorite Shanen Bible.” Then, I guess I realized that I could buy a new Bible (or a couple new ones!) for that same price, and I felt a little guilty for spending that much, even though it’s my favorite Bible, with all my favorite notes and references… So, while it’s been away at the Christian Bookstore I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. While I love the Amplified version, I realize also that it’s hard to follow along with in church, or with anyone who is reading Scripture. If you haven’t read anything from the Amplified version, it’s spectacular… but take this verse for instance, and imagine trying to read along with someone…

In a New King James Bible, Philippians 3:8 reads as this:

“Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ”

My Amplified version reads like this:

“Yes, furthermore, I count everything as loss compared to the possession of the priceless privilege (the overwhelming preciousness, the surpassing worth, and supreme advantage) of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord and of progressively becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him [of perceiving and recognizing and understanding Him more fully and clearly]. For His sake I have lost everything and consider it all to be mere rubbish (refuse, dregs), in order that I may win (gain) Christ (the Anointed One)”

From this verse, I hope you can see why I LOVE the Amplified so much (this is one of my favorite verses in that translation b/c that is so often how I feel, that knowing Jesus is a priceless privilege of surpassing worth, etc. etc.) But, you can probably also see how hard it would be to follow along with someone who is reading from the NKJ version, or almost any other version. (Many times when Erin and I are having our Bible study, I will read aloud, and I think it’s a distraction while I mentally skip over the brackets and parentheses.)

Anyway, this is how I found my self at an unexpected crossroad. Do I continue on and spend over $100 to have the Amplified Bible re-bound (I looked in to having the Max Lucado Bible rebound and it was even more than that because the entire spine needed re-threaded!), or do I find a new Bible for a new Chapter in my life? It was hard. Both of the other Bibles I have are filled with highlights, notes, quotes, and rhema from God. I love reading through them and seeing something that God spoke to me 4, 6, even 12 years ago!! I love thinking back to the exact moment that God spoke it to me – I can remember where I was, what I was doing, what was going on in my life. My Max Lucado Bible is over 12 years old and unfortunately the ink is bleeding through on some of the pages. So, while both of those Bibles hold unforgettable memories for me – I realized it was time for a [sturdy] Bible that I will have for a very, very long time. The others will always be there for me to refer back to and I hope to even pass them along to my children someday. (Of course, I would pay to have them fixed at that point.)

So, I gave myself a long pep-talk, I prayed, and the sweet employees at the Christian bookstore helped me look for 3 hours (no joke – I think I looked at EVERY Bible)... I mean, do you know how many different Bibles there are??! I looked at every Study, Inspirational, Devotional, and Worship Bible. Everyone’s Bible needs are different, but I’m definitely a Study Bible person; I love referencing things and connecting similar verses to each other, stuff like that. So, after so much pressure of finding the “Shanen Bible”, I finally walked away with a new one. It’s a nice, black leather one with a pretty design on it… but... it’s been an awkward transition for me. as I read this really amazing Study Bible, I catch myself thinking of my other Bibles, and I wonder if I have made the right decision. I haven’t been able to talk myself in to writing in it or making a note in it, because I still think, “What if this isn’t the perfect ‘Shanen Bible’ and I need to take it back?” Am I over-reacting??? This Bible has everything I was looking for; Scripture references, lots of study notes, Chronologies, (even online study material), etc., so why am I having such a hard time accepting this as my new Bible? Maybe it’s just that I’m not used to it yet?? It still seems so foreign, like I’m borrowing someone else’s Bible.

Let me know your thoughts… am I crazy?

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Jennifer said...

God's word is our life line, it's the breath of God breathed on us daily as we journey through life. It's completely understandable to be uncomfortable picking up a strange new bible with unfamiliarity written all over it. But Shanen, you don't serve a "perfect Shanen bible". You serve a perfect God who meets you right where you're at. The reason the past bible worked so well for you was not just its formatting or that it was "perfect" for you, it was because God spoke so distinctly through it to you and that the words God gave you in it was perfect for you. God will speak distinctly to you through this new bible too. Maybe God would like to use this new bible to make it His own like He did the other bibles. Sometimes we have a tendency to see something we have already highlighted or written in and we don't look deeper because we assume we got everything out of that scripture. Maybe God wants to take you to a deeper level with a bible that has no previous writing or highlights. Consider the new bible a new season in life. But this is just my advice and my advice can't compare to God's advice, so pray about it as I know you have already been doing and let God speak to you about it.
Love you sweetie!
I'm glad I'm not the only one who has to ask herself from time to time if she's overreacting. LOL

Dreamer said...

Oh my gosh, Jenni! That made so much sense, and totally spoke to my spirit. (I almost cried!) Thanks so much for sharing your heart and being a vessel that God used. Seriously, as I was reading your comment, I thought, "Oh, that makes sense."

You are so right that sometimes we see a previous note or highlight and assume that's all we're going to get out of that Scripture... I don't want it to stop at a highlight or quote - I want to dig deeper. God really did speak to me so "perfectly" through those other Bibles, but you are so right - it wasn't the Bible, it was the living, breathing Word of God - the same Word in my new Bible. :) Thanks, sis! I love you!