If we interviewed your Bible, what would it say about your relationship with God?
Would you be eager to hear what it said? Or would you prefer to hide it?
My pastor, Jason Gillespie, asked this intriguing question during his sermon, Our Relationship to the Word.
As I wondered what my Bible would say, my mind rushed back through all the Bibles I’ve owned. All the way back to my very first.
If You Interviewed My First Bible
“Thank you for agreeing to this interview, Mr. KJV. What can you tell us about Jean’s relationship with God?”
“Forgiveth me,” it would say in its finest King James voice, “but I can telleth thee naught about Jean’s relationship with the Lord God Almighty. For while I have seeneth her name inscribed within my covers, I have yet to meeteth her within the pages.”
It would be a short interview.
I received that Bible when I was eight years old. I only know this because the pastor inscribed the date inside its dark red cover.
If You Interviewed My Second Bible
In junior high, God began to put a desire in my heart to read His Word.
A friend had invited me to her church’s youth camp where I heard the gospel for the first time.
After camp, I searched the hall bookcase for a Bible.
It’s possible my red Bible sat on one of the shelves, but a different Bible caught my eye that day—a Bible from the groovy ’70s.
This Bible sported an army green cover with cool images of college students. It even had a super rad name: The Way.
I held The Way in my young fingers and dreamed of one day being as hip as these guys and gals.
I devoured much of the New Testament and the story of Joseph in the Old.
Somewhere along the way, I fell in love with God.
If you interviewed this Bible, it would tell you in its modern Living Bible lingo that I carried it back to youth camp, heard the gospel again, and dug it. I surrendered to Jesus.
It would no doubt tell you I felt much love for God and for my Bible, but much of it confused me. I have been crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20). Say what?
The interview would then take a sad turn when it told how I tucked it out of sight during high school to devote myself to a new diversion—to becoming an idiot.
Forget The Way. I’m Going My Own Way.
In my late high school and early college years, I went my own way and carefully shielded my Bible from my terrible choices. Or maybe I shielded myself from the guilt feelings I feared it would heap on me.
My Bible sat rejected and alone. Back on the old shelf.
By the end of my freshman year in college, I’d reached the end of my enjoyment of sin stupidity. Sin lost its appeal.
Perhaps the Truth I’d learned from my Bible woke me up. Whatever it was God used, I awoke to the reality that sin only seemed fun. Sin was a liar and left me aching for Truth.
God’s Word called to my heart and offered me peace—peace with God and the comforting peace of God.
I fully surrendered to Jesus and recognized, perhaps for the first time, that Jesus wasn’t just part of my life. He is my life.
Before, I’d only wanted what Jesus could give me. This time, there was no denying the truth we all must recognize. We’re wretched sinners in desperate need of a Savior—and Jesus is a glorious Savior.
I grabbed my Bible off my shelf.
New Plans for My Old Bible
If the interview continued, The Way would tell you I spent the next 1½ years growing through studying its pages.
But then it would report how I had to slide it back onto the shelf. This time, though, I wasn’t rejecting it. It was just too big to carry with me on my study abroad semester in Germany. Instead, I packed a new travel-sized Bible with a tough orange metal case.
I hated leaving The Way behind, but in the end, I was thankful I did. God had big plans for it.
While I was off in Germany, He was drawing another person to Himself—my mom.
Toward the end of my semester, I got a tragic phone call.
Mom’s dad had set off to play a round of golf with his friends when he suffered a stroke. The doctors tried to save him, but after a couple of days he passed away.
Mom’s hero had been ripped from her life.
Not long after he passed, Mom and Dad visited me in Europe. Still reeling from the loss, Mom sent Dad off on an errand and sat me down to talk.
She said, “My father was a good man, and now he’s gone. There had better be something more than this! Tell me what your God can do for me.”
Panic seized my heart.
Does her eternal salvation hinge on my next words? What have I learned from my Bible that I can share with her? What do I say?
I shot off a secret prayer and then told Mom what God had done for me. How Jesus lived a perfect life, died on a cross for my sins, and rose again.
“He saved me,” I said. “And He’ll save you, and anyone who believes in Him. He’ll give you new life.”
And then I told her she needed to read the Bible.
She shook her head and said Dad would be angry if she did. Apparently, he felt—as she once had—that I’d fallen under some silly religious spell.
Finding The Way
As I pondered what Mom could do, I remembered my Bible at home and had a crazy idea.
Why not? This was an emergency.
“Take my Bible called The Way, Mom, and rip out the book of John. Then you can tuck it into one of your novels and read it without Dad knowing.”
Like a modern-day Nicodemus, the Jewish leader who’d sought Jesus under the cover of darkness (John 3:1-21), Mom sought answers from Jesus in secret.
For many months she read the pages of my Bible hidden away in her novels.
The following year she attended First Baptist of Atlanta’s The Passion Play, which dramatized the final week of Christ’s life. It all came together for her.
She understood the way to salvation and surrendered to Jesus.
The Way, The Truth, and The Life
I never saw my beloved The Way again until almost 30 years later. After Mom passed away.
As I pulled it off her bookshelf, I wondered. Had I only assumed she’d followed my advice and ripped out the book of John?
What if I’d been telling that story and it wasn’t even true?
With nervous expectation, I flipped to the New Testament and smiled. The Bible fell open to a large gap right where the Gospel of John, the book of Acts, and the first 12 chapters of Romans should’ve been.
My heart soared.
I’ve known and loved many Bibles over the years, but The Way will always hold a special place in my heart. Not because it’s such a great translation of the Bible. It’s actually not. But God used it anyway.
Through it, He showed both my mom and me that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6).
And so we did.
And so did my dad a couple of years after my mom. Amen!
What would your Bible say about your relationship with God?