When I received my first Bible as a child, I was told that it was God’s Holy book. As such, I treated it reverently. I opened and closed it carefully and always made sure my hands were clean. After writing my name on the dedication page, I never wrote on the pages again.
But, I felt frustrated. There were so many passages I wanted to revisit. Still feeling like I was doing something wrong, I began carefully underlining certain passages very lightly in pencil. And, then I found soft pastel colored pencils made specifically for the thin Bible pages. Maybe it was okay to highlight passages after all. I bought the pencils and loved the way the colored lines made my favorite verses pop on the pages.
And then, I inherited an older relative’s Bible. I was so excited to receive it, but when I opened it the pages were empty. She had not marked any of her favorite passages. I was hugely disappointed. I really wanted to see the Bible through her eyes. I wanted to know her thoughts on what she was reading. That started me thinking. What kind of Bible did I want to pass on to my kids and grandkids someday? Would they, like me, be hugely disappointed to receive a book with pristine pages but no sign of the owner’s love for what they were reading and learning? And, so I began carefully writing short notes on a few pages when something really struck me. Usually, I wrote only a word or two in small, neat writing. It was still a bit scary to be writing in such a Holy Book.
I did, however, write on the church bulletins and sermon note cards. I’d write down the passages I wanted to look up at home and the sentences from the sermon that I wanted to remember. And, I’d doodle. I hear better when I draw. Soon, my Bible was full of pieces of paper stuck throughout its pages. This made my Bible personal to me but it was a hassle whenever I took it to church. I’d open it and little pieces of paper would fall out onto the floor like confetti.
Recently, I found some ladies on Instagram who write themselves notes in the margins of their Bibles in beautiful, flowing writing. Some copy a verse from the page and some write passages in their own words. The pages are lovely and make God’s word come alive for me in new ways.
I researched further and found out that there are even special Bibles you can buy (called journaling or note-taking Bibles). These Bibles have wide margins on every page for the sole (soul!) purpose of writing on them. I can’t tell you how this hit my heart. Finally, a way to study the word that matched my right-brain mentality.
I am currently reading the One Year Chronological Bible and now I bring my crayons and my colored pencils out whenever I begin studying. I underline verses. I circle them. I draw pictures. I write notes. And, I feel like I am reading God’s word the way I was meant to.
I will never be the scholar who looks up root words and studies old languages, but I am honoring Him with the gifts I do have. My hope is that by the time I leave this world, I will have well-loved, well-used, colorful Bibles to leave for each child and grandchild. And, I hope that they add their own notes and pictures to the pages until each Bible becomes a beautiful part of this family’s journey to Him.