An honest question.
I know I do. I love to grab my highlighter and use the pretty colors to mark where my favorite verses are in my bible. I put dates next to verses that are truly speaking to where I am at in my life. I mark them as prayers. I have notes written on extra papers in there. I have like 6 bookmarks all for different reasons in my poor bible. One is for Sunday service. One is for Wednesday night service. One is for my bible study. One is for my other bible study. One is for where my daily reading is…okay, so I have 5 bookmarks.
I do not just read my bible, I full on live in my bible.
So I am not sure I am the right person to teach my kiddos how to really get the most out of their bible time. I know, I was taught that you NEVER EVER WRITE IN YOUR BIBLE when I was younger. It just was not done.
I went to parochial school though and we wrote in our books ALL THE TIME! In fact when it was time to buy our books for the next year, let me tell you, those books with the highlighting and notes in them for you already were the ones that were coveted!! When I went to college it was exactly the same way. Who wants a new book when you could buy the used and already find the most important information quickly. All the hard work was already done. I even write in books I buy now. You know how much I truly liked a book by how many pages are marked up, underlined and notes written on the sides. Even the historical fiction that I love to read has little paper tabs stuck to the pages in the chapters that really made my heart swell, tears roll down my face or just sincerely want to hug the character! Am I the only one who does that?
Oh my gosh, like 11 years ago, when I started attending my current church, I remember the Pastor telling us to “If you write in your bible, mark this in your bible’s margin.” Seriously!? I am supposed to do what!? Put ink on the pages of my sacred bible?? Are you nuts?? Isn’t that desecrating His holy Word???
I was dumbfounded that a PASTOR would ask us to do something so out of order. I mean who tells their congregation to openly defile their most precious possession?? There was no way on earth I was going to be able to ever put an intentional mark in my most cherished bible. I had that white leather bound edition since I was eight years old. It was pristine! I was extremely proud of how insanely clean this older than I would care to admit bible was. It was immaculate. Sadly, mostly because I hardly ever opened it. I honestly believed that I was a good christian because I had an old bible that looked like it was new. Oh I knew passages from the beautiful book with the gold edged pages, the same ones every one else knows, like John 3:16, Luke 2:11 or Philippians 4:13. Ask me if I knew what there chapters were about though and I would have drawn a big blank. More than sad right? My heart was in turmoil. I had to do some serious prayer work on this subject…SERIOUS PRAYER WORK.
The next Sunday sermon, I heard the Pastor call us “Bible Students.” What? Oh my goodness. Lord Jesus answered me in a way I would totally understand. When I am in my beloved bible, I am not to just use it for a pretty accessory. It is there to teach me. The whole purpose of The Word is to help shed light upon my path, to give me direction and discernment. It is to impart wisdom and show me how incredible His Grace is. It is to be used and consumed. It is the focus and the answers to my prayers.
I WAS MADE TO STUDY THE HOLY WORD OF GOD AND THEN SHARE IT.
So I dove in. I took my bible and started underlining passages we were studying as a church. The points that really stood out to me. Then I started colorfully underlining as I was going through the Word in my devotional time. Slowly that led into highlighted paragraphs and before you know it my bible was more than my bible. It was my prayer journal, my history book, my study companion, my whispers from the Holy Spirit, my comfort…my world. My bible held my answers to questions I had not even found the words to yet. It was just sitting there waiting for me to explore and truly study the truth written on those pages. It changed me.
No one taught me how to mark up my bible. I just kind of learned my own way as I went. I study with highlighters, post it notes, colored pencils, colored pens, bookmarks and random notes placed in between the pages. It helps me to see the bible as a whole story. I love when I pull out information that is pertinent for that exact moment that might not have been important the first or third time I went over it.
There is a sweet book that just came out that I am using with my youngest daughter, called Journaling the Word: A guide to studying, highlighting, & journaling through the Bible by Caitlyn Burns. You can find it on Amazon or at her website Valued and Esteemed. I believe it is under $20.
It is a great way to start learning the importance of really digging into your bible. It is a walk through the Bible showing ways you can get more out of your studies. She has a ton of great ideas to get you so amped to mark up your bible!! I am ready to buy a new bible and crack it open with many pretty colors and tabs!! .
I know many of you will still not be on the same page. Trust me, I have friends who cannot stand when people write in their bibles. I totally get it. I just have found something that helps me to study the bible. My way is not for everyone. It is just the way I am wired. I have already gone through the white leather bible…so much so that its pages are falling out. I have given away the second one I had started to a new believer who could not believe that I would share my bible with her. I have marked up the bible my kids got me with so much color and paper!! I love it!! I got a new study bible for my birthday last year that I started using as my prayer bible. Now I have a new bible in a version I have never read before the (in)courage bible. I just put pretty tabs on it and did my first highlights today!! Caitlyn inspired me!!
However you dig into your bible and really get to the meat of it to sit and chew on is the most perfect way you should do it. For me, this works. If you study a different way I would love to hear about it and maybe give it a try too. Let me know :)