My bible is falling to bits. I purchased it my first semester of graduate school in 2009, my very first NRSV. It journeyed with through my years at Nazarene Theological Seminary. It went with me to my first parish in rural Missouri. It made the arduous trip to Idaho during a particularly frigied and snowy December in 2014. I’ve already reattached the cover (upside down interestingly enough) but even that fix is failing. But the thought of buying a new one brings me to tears. Why? Because in the margins are date after date, moments in time where God spoke to me through a specific text. There are notes here and there, prayers scrawled up the page, underlines in every pen color. To flip through the pages of my raggedy bible is to bear witness to God’s faithfulness to me this past decade.
In Joshua 4:14-24, Israel has just passed through the river Jordan on dry ground into the Promised Land. As they crossed, Joshua instructs a man from each tribe to take a stone from the riverbed. Once the entire nation had crossed into the land the Lord was giving them, Joshua used them to construct an altar. In the future, when future generations ask about the altar, the people are to tell them the story of God’s deliverance.
While the notes in the margin of my Bible are much less conspicuous than a giant pile of rocks, they are for me stones of remembrance. As I read the dates scrawled next to psalms and pass my finger over the crinkled pages where tears have fallen, I remember the Lord’s deliverance. I remember God’s mighty action in my own life and in the life of my family. I remember facing raging rivers and bearing witness to God’s provision of a way through, even the times when the path did not lead where I anticipated. Holy remembrance is a sacred gift that, when practiced well, deepens our trust and magnifies our witness.
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Grace and Peace.