January 4, 2012
When I graduated from High School in 2009, the church I worked at gave me and my fellow graduates a small, almost pocket sized version of the NIV Student Bible. The first time I looked at the crisp type printed pages I knew there was no way I was going to be able to read it, even with glasses. So I started to contemplate givien it back to the church and asking for a large print version, or at least a larger version. But as that week progressed I felt God telling me to hold onto that bible, I didn’t know why, but I obeyed none the less.
So I took this small brown, leather bible to Michigan with me where I was going to be working for the first month and a half of my summer before College. I thought that maybe that was where God intended the bible to stay but there it sat, in the bottom of my suitcase, still in the box. The whole time I was there I prayed “God what do you want me to do with this bible, who is it meant for?” Now I already had a large leather bound NIV Student Bible, I still have it, it sits next to my larger NIV and even larger still ESV Study Bible and though I use the latter two more often that bible was the first I really read for the content.
If you knew me then you knew that I was just beginning to shake off my legalistic self and discover the grace of God. There were days when I looked at that bible and thought allowed to, “Why should I deliver this, does it even have a destination.” But God would always give me the same response “Hold on to it, it’s a very special bible.” So like a kid carries around a doll I carried around that bible. All the way through my time in Michigan and then back home, still no home for it.
While I was in Michigan I had begun talking to one of the new State Choir members who was coming in for her first year during my second. I don’t know why I started talking to her, I still don’t know, I just saw her on the State Choir Facebook page and thought “I’ll talk to her” and I did. I shared with her about the state choir and for some reason my faith, which still needed a lot of work and wouldn’t really take shape till after that fateful night in my friends room freshmen year of College (For this story see “Illumination” July 17, 2011)
When State choir finally rolled around in July I don’t think I talked to this girl at all during rehearsal week, and if I did I don’t recall. My first memory of actually introducing myself to this girl was at the bottom of the steps right before line-up for our afternoon concert sets during the first week of the fair. My first thought was how amazingly beautiful God had made her to be, my second was the heart He had blessed her with. I wondered if she was a Christian, I later found out she wasn’t.
But we spent time together, me and the other friends from her highschool and those we met in our choir family. For some reason this girl stood out in my mind and someone I was supposed to spend time with. It didn’t make any sense to me, it was just what God intended and at that time I was learning not to argue with God’s will.
But that dang Bible was still sitting in my suitcase, glaring at me from the bottom of my suitcase, with God still saying “Hey man, I have a plan for that thing.” By the last Sunday morning I had given up on giving the bible to someone at choir. I sat on the bunk before line up for church and looked at it mournfully, praying that God would reveal its future owner, praying it was someone here.
After breakfast I went out to the entrance and there was this girl standing wide awake in her uniform, waiting for the whistle and like a loud thunderclap, or a bus hitting you head on God’s intentions for the bible were made clear. The night before we had exchanged friendship letters, hers, which is pinned to the cork board behind a carbiner she gave me almost exactly two years later on my desk here at school, had said “I hadn’t really thought much about God until I met you.” Words that brought tears to my eyes because up until then people had associated me with God mostly in a negative way.
“Hold on” I told her “I have something for you.” I bolted back into the dorms and grabbed the bible, joyfully running back outside to give her the bible. I want to say tears sprung to her eyes when I handed it to her, but I honestly don’t remember, I do remember the warm hug of a friend that was the response to the gift that had traveled to Michigan, sat in a suitcase for almost three months and was almost regifted.
Now she is one of my dearest friends, one of those very dear people that I want to see every time I’m in Ohio but don’t get to. She still holds onto that bible and is now exploring her Christian Faith with passion and vigor, sometimes she loses focus but so do we all. Truly an example, like the young woman in Illumination, of God’s grace in my life at a time when I was far from gracious to others. One of the many friendships that I am far from deserving of, or worthy of.
It wasn’t to long after that the illumination miracle occurred and God began to really shape and mold me into a stronger individual. Part of a journey towards what I described in an earlier post called Re-Orientation into a better relationship with God. (I can’t remember the name of the post.)
God used a bible that I never read to start the process I had been hiding from for so long. He used someone who deliberately knocked down all my walls and got to know the heart of me. He used someone I got to surprise at reunion and one I will most assuredly surprise again.
These are the graces of God, I pray you find community like this in your journey, that you may receive the word and be like good soil, like my very dear friend. Growing daily in grace and understanding of God, working out salvation with fear and trembling and doing what Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy, “Study to become approved workman, unashamed by the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
God Bless you