When it comes to Bible management, there are two extremes. There are people who come home from church on Sunday and immediately remove every scrap of paper from their Bibles, and there are those who keep every single bulletin, flyer and inspirational bookmark they’ve ever owned stuffed between the pages of their Bibles.
(I know this spectrum exists because I am married to one of those first people, and I’m pretty sure it’s a scientific fact that every extreme must have an opposite extreme, thus the second group.)
Several weeks ago, author Jennifer Dukes Lee posted something on her blog that got me thinking about this.
“For years,” she wrote, “I have kept a little slip of paper tucked between the pages of my Bible. It says, ‘Keep reading. It’s not the end of the book.’ ”
I always love a good quote, and the one Jennifer shared is a keeper, for sure. But that particular day, her words called to mind the things that I keep tucked between the pages of my own Bible.
In case you were wondering, I fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum I described above. Right now, for example, my bible holds a ticket for our upcoming Christmas Tea and an Operation Christmas Child bookmark, along with a dog-eared envelope full of little notes and pictures my daughters have given me over the years (thoughtfully organized by one of those very girls).
The ticket and bookmark will be culled after a few weeks, while the envelope will remain until it completely falls apart. But as special as its contents are, there are a couple of other items in my Bible that have been there much longer and are much more meaningful to me.
One little piece of paper contains the lyrics to a worship song we used to sing at our church in Northwest Arkansas back when we were waiting to adopt Molly. We knew we would be getting a daughter from China, but before we received our adoption referral, we had no idea who she was or exactly where she was.
The message of the song “He Knows My Name” sustained us during those days of wondering. We knew the little girl who would become our second daughter had already been born, and it gave us great comfort to remember that God not only knew her name, but was watching over her until we were able to come for her.
Every time I flip past those lyrics, I’m vaulted back to that season in God’s waiting room. Yes, there were tears that fell, just as the song says, and I will never forget them. But even as my eyes get misty once again, my heart overflows with gratitude at the way He so graciously answered our prayers for our sweet Molly.
The second item that will never leave the pages of my Bible is a tiny zip-lock baggie, about an inch square, that contains three actual mustard seeds. These little baggies were handed out at the same church, probably on a Sunday when the message had something to do with faith.
In my Bible, though, this little packet is not between the pages of Matthew’s gospel, where Jesus talks about moving mountains with faith the size of mustard seeds. It’s stuck in the fold of Lamentations 3, a passage I held close during another season of waiting when my trust sometimes wavered but God’s faithfulness did not:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. (Lamentations 3:22-26)
I cannot look at those seeds, in that specific spot in my Bible, without remembering. How God comforted us through three years of infertility. How He carried us as we waited almost two more years to adopt Lilly. How He went before us to China and watched over both of the daughters He had chosen for our family since before time began. How He’s been with us every day since.
Through ups and downs, change and stress, turmoil and joy—He’s always constant, always loving, always faithful.
That’s what’s in my Bible—and in my heart—this week of Thanksgiving.
What’s in yours?