Monday, November 22, 2010

Correcting the Bible - by Terry Burns

I have a Bible with really big margins, perfect for making notes transferred from Bible to Bible over the years as I have studied it and listened to sermons and Sunday School teachers. Yes, at 68 I still go to Sunday school, teaching a little when I can. When I wear a Bible out it can take me weeks to move into the new one, transferring all these notes.

On a recent visit my grandson saw me studying and making notes and asked me if I was correcting it. The way he said it made me think he was expecting me to mark the errors that I saw and maybe mark a big grade in red letters at the top. I laughed, of course, then told him no, that it was the Word of God and was perfect. I said the notes were for me, that even though the Bible is without error, my understanding of it can be faulty. When someone told me something or I found something that helped me better understand, I wanted a note to help me remember it and I wanted that note right where it could be of the most use to me.

Oh, over the years I've had people complain when they saw me writing in it, people who consider it too sacred to desecrate in that manner. I understand where they are coming from, but I don't worship the Bible, I worship the one whose words it contains. Besides, which shows a higher regard for it, someone who has a pristine, unblemished Bible held in high regard, or someone who considers it the ultimate textbook and guide for life using it and working in it and taking any means or method of finding greater understanding?

I tried to explain this to my grandson, that making such notes didn't show a lack of respect for the Bible, but an intense desire to more and more make it a VERY PERSONAL book.

I hope he got it.

This big Bible is my main repository even if I am using other resources in my study. But it isn't my favorite. I have s small Bible given to me by my mother on the day I was baptized over 50 years ago. It is a full Bible, but is scarcely larger than most New Testaments. Needless to say the print is very small, very hard for these old eyes, but I have always carried it, and usually have it with me as I still carry it each day in my briefcase. It is an old friend and has seen me through a lot.

So if you see me over there writing in the margins (when I can find room) don't bother to chastise me about it. I'm not doing it out of a lack of respect, but out of a strong desire to get closer to the Word.


Jeanette Levellie said...

I love your outlook, Terry. We should make God's Word personal, since it was inspired by a personal Lord.

I once had a kindergarten teacher at a women's retreat say my Bible looked like a coloring book! I took that as a compliment.

Happy margin embellishing,

Timothy Fish said...

I've never been one to mark in my Bible (not that I have a problem with it if others do). But I also don't go back and read notes after I've written them. When it comes to the Bible and other books, I like the text clear of distractions. I've found that most of the stuff other people like to write in the margins I remember without writing it down.

Joanne Sher said...

Love this perspective. I was raised Jewish, Terry, and we weren't even supposed to touch the torah with our bare hands - and if we dropped a prayer book, we kissed it. It took me a good long while before I was comfortable writing in my Bible, but I'm getting there.

Anonymous said...

When I write in the margins of my Bible I am having a conversation with God. I think he enjoys our interacting with his Word. Someday we will discover how close He is to us in those moments.

Jeanette Levellie said...

I love to put a person's name in the margin next to a verse I am praying for them, along with the date. It's fun to see it months later, and rejoice that God came through.

Bonnie S. Calhoun said...

LOL...I write all of my sermon notes in the margins too, so that when I'm studying a particular passage I can refresh myself with what Pastor said about it, and LOL...I also like when he revisits a sermon that he did 10 or 12 years ago, and makes fresh points.

Terry Burns said...

We have evangelists come in and I can often tell when they are using sermon points they have used in an earlier visit