About a month ago my wife and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary. It has been my practice to follow the "traditional" anniversary gifts for my gifts to her. This means that for our 15th anniversary I got her a crystal vase with our names engraved into it. It was very nice, if I do say so myself.
But then, on the way to meet her at the restaurant to celebrate, I dropped the vase on the concrete sidewalk and it broke into a million pieces. So much for that.
My anniversary gift for my wife didn't work out, but she got me a gift too: a new Bible. It's a compact, yet large print, ESV Bible with my wife's nickname for me ("Hubbz") imprinted in gold on the front cover. I was excited to receive it, and immediately moved my previous "go-to" Bible from its spot on my desk to a retirement position on my bookshelf. It had gotten worn out over the past 10 years or so that I've had it, and it was time for a new one anyway.
That got me to thinking about the Bibles I've owned through different seasons of my life, all of which I still have in my possession. Each one of those Bibles tells a story about my life at the time I was using it.
The first Bible I ever wanted for myself was a King James Version. For some reason I don't recall, my friend and I were fascinated with the old-times feel of King James english so I asked my mom to get me a copy, and she did. I was probably about 12 years old at the time. It was a large print King James, with the words of Christ in red (which I don't recommend). At the time I got this Bible, I wasn't a Christian, and the King James english proved to be more challenging than I thought it would be. This Bible is still in great shape because it was almost never read.
The second Bible I remember having was given to me at some point in time when I was a teenager. I don't remember who or why it was given to me, but it was. This one was a NIV Student Bible. Inside of this Bible are little explanatory notes that help the reader understand the context of scripture. This is a special Bible to me. In high school, I used to bring this Bible with me to school and place it on the top of the chest-high lockers in the school and read it before class started in the mornings. As you can see from the picture, there are plenty of teenage indicators on the Bible: stickers, duct tape, and lots of highlighting and underlining and drawings in the margins (I don't highlight or underline anything in my Bibles anymore - you can, but it's not something that helps me). This Bible is also special to me because it is the Bible I used when I read the Bible from cover to cover for the first time in my life. According to a note I put in the margin, I finished my first read-through on August 4, 2002. This Bible - by far - is the most-used one I've ever owned. It went with me through my teenage years and also through college, and its pages are stuffed with notes, cards, and other mementos from that time in my life.
After I got married, I bought my next Bible: a New King James Version of the John MacArthur Study Bible. This Bible got me through my first years of vocational ministry, and helped me immensely as a budding preacher in his mid-twenties. MacArthur's commentary is wonderful, and the New King James translation is solid. One of the significant factors of this Bible was the price tag, a hefty $70.00, which was a big deal for a newly married couple. I remember that when I got home with it, I plopped into a hammock we had hanging outside and began to read. These days the cover is frayed and torn a bit, and the bookmark was somehow cut off, but overall, it's still in good shape.
My next regular Bible is the one that I've just retired. I've been using it regularly for about 10 years or so. This is the Bible that could tell the most stories about ministry. It's been to hospital rooms, to the bedside of the sick and dying, in broken homes, and and through many counseling sessions. As I said earlier, I don't like to write in my Bibles, but this Bible has some writing in it. But the writing all has to do with counseling sessions I've used it in. If there is something underlined or written in it, it was done in order to show someone else what it was saying. One of my favorite things about this Bible is the single-column text, which seems to be a rarity in Bibles these days. I really love having the text in a single column for some reason. I think it makes it easier to read. There are some torn pages, and as you can see in the picture, the cover is well worn.
Finally, here's the new Bible my wife got me as an anniversary present. It's a compact, large print (as large as it can be for a compact size, at least) ESV. At this moment it is sitting on the corner of my desk, ready for use at a moment's notice. Who knows where I'll go with it, or where it will take me. Just as God used and directed my use of his word in and throughout the seasons of my life, I know that he will do so again as I look to the future of studying and applying his word. Truly, there is no greater gift than a new Bible.