I was given this NIV Student Bible in 1997. I read it. I wrote in it. I traveled with it. Sometimes I cried over the pages and sometimes I rejoiced over the pages. Notes were sprinkled throughout – not only mine but the “notes” of my children. As I grew in my faith it seems my Bible did the opposite.

Within the past year my husband suggested it was time to buy a new Bible, but I scoffed at the very idea! Buy a new Bible! No way!  The were notes from sermons dating back to my Hope Community days to a youth camp when I was a junior in high school to promises I received while waiting for my children to be born. And while I couldn’t always remember the Scriptural references to verses I was looking for I usually knew in what general area of my Bible they were and what color I had highlighted them.

Finally the day came when I could only close my dilapidated Bible cover (which was already shedding bits of leather every where it went) if I folded the binding a certain way and then quickly slapped the covers together. When my concordance suddenly went from C to half a world map I figured my husband was right. I needed a new Bible.

I lovingly placed my old Bible on a shelf until I knew what to do with it and I replaced the broken spine of the Student Bible with a brand new, expensive, leather-bound, ESV Study Bible. This new Bible is almost three inches thick! I went from carrying my old, beat-up Bible to church to not carrying any at all. How could I bring such a beautiful and pristine new item anywhere? I read it at home and felt quite virtuous as I turned the thin delicate pages lined with gold.

Months later the old Bible was still sitting on a shelf waiting for a decision. I didn’t know what to do with it. It didn’t feel right to throw a Bible away, but I was way too practical to keep it just for the sake for keeping it. (I forgot I have a box in the garage full of yearbooks and other scraps of memories waiting for children and grandchild to pilfer through with awes and, “What’s this thing? A postcard? Tell us more, Grandma!”)

Finally I decided there was nothing to do but carefully and respectfully place it in the trash bag. (Is anyone screaming at the computer right now or is it just me?) I began bringing my leather bound Bible to church. It’s still too pretty to write in, but at least I can follow the sermon.

Wouldn’t you know the very weekend I carefully placed my childhood Bible in the trash I heard a woman from church give her family’s testimony and what would she use as a visual but her late father’s beautiful condition, notes and bulletins and Father’s Day cards stuck throughout, massive leather Bible!

I sank down in my chair thinking of my precious pink Bible sitting in some trash dump. I couldn’t even make jokes about maybe the right somebody coming along and finding the Bible, because I know in real life rats don’t read. Oh, it pains me.

Earlier this week I entered the twentieth century. (I can’t say the twenty-first century, because I don’t yet have a cell phone.) My husband (who would personally like to add in adjectives like “awesome”, “caring”, and “thoughtful”) bought me an iPad. Now, instead of bringing my purse and a suitcase of notebooks and pencils, a pleasure book, and my three-inch thick Bible, I can slip this little contraption into my purse and go! However, now children, or the strangers sitting around the park with me, or even my pastor, can’t tell if I’m checking facebook or being transformed by the Word of God.

But the electronic Bible situation opens up a whole new can of worms. My mother always used to tell me not to rely on but learn to read a map in case you didn’t have mapquest around when you got lost. She’s right, you know. Now I don’t have mapquest. I have a fully powered, ready to go anywhere GPS. (Of course, it sometimes gets confused and tells me the closest Starbucks is in Newark, Virginia. The intention is there.) Why would I ever need to memorize a Scripture reference when I can just Google the part that I do remember?

This is not a judgment post. This is my thinking out loud. Here are some questions for you to ponder and think out loud with me…

What do you think about having a Bible on your iPod/iPad? Do you think a bit of our testimony is lost when people can’t see what we’re reading?

What have you done with broken Bibles from the past?

Should our Bibles be torn to pieces like mine or should they be treated with respect and last us a lifetime?

2 thoughts on “The Bible Dilemma

  1. If it makes you feel better, that Bible I talked about at the retreat was my father’s, and he had it when he was older (read: no little kids around), and it was still in pretty good condition, and he was an engineer so there was no logical reason that dictated throwing it out. And just think, the shiny new leather ESV is the one you will pass along to your kids… mark it well!

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