Meet my Bible from college.
“Nice to meet you,” it says.
I got this Bible when I attended Intervarsity’s missions conference in 1996.. It was compact, so when I left the next year for Argentina, I took this Bible with me. It was the first Bible I read all the way through. And it was the Bible that I have put the most underlining, marginalia, and time into.
It has been sitting on my shelf for years, unopened. I wrote a bit about it at Cara Strickland’s site.
While I used this Bible, my faith was at its most unhealthy. Later, I’d look back on that time as feeling like I kept stepping into smaller and smaller boxes, until I almost had no room to breathe.
And the smallest box of all was how I was supposed to relate to the Bible.
Read it every day. Enjoy every word. Look forward to studying it. Interpret it the same way as everyone around me. Never question anything in it.
The older I get, the less I’m able to open this Bible. It makes my throat tight.
Those years were also full of transformative times in God’s Word. Like the moment I looked up a Psalm when I was homesick, my first day in Buenos Aires, and found comfort there. The wonder I felt in getting to know Scripture in its breathtaking expanse for the first time. The notes I took in Spanish while listening to a sermon at my church. The mementoes I tucked in: jacaranda flowers, napkins, Bible study outlines. This book was a companion.
It is woven into who I am. Both good and bad, it’s a touchstone for a tremendously important period of my life.
It’s not a Bible I can give to Goodwill, and I don’t want to throw it away.
But I can’t read it as-is. So I’m going to remake it.
This year, I’m going to cut holes in it. Paste things in. Paint over pages. Use tape and hole punches and glitter and magic markers. I might even burn a page or two.
I want to feel at home in this Bible again. In all Bibles. I don’t want to be afraid of putting my feet up on the sofa or of reading scripture “the wrong way.” I want to have encounters with God in His Word in freedom and joy and creativity.
And most of all, I want new ways of being in the Word that don’t involve concordances, fill-in-the-blank questions, or the right answers.
A few times a month for the foreseeable future, I’m going to share here how I’m deconstructing my Bible.
You can follow along.
I’ve made an ebook of 52 projects/provocations/suggestions to help you transform an old Bible too. They are open-ended, and most would only take minimal time or skill. But if you want to spend more time, get crafty, and break out the gold paint, go for it.
You can purchase the ebook here. It’s hand-drawn, and fun, and honestly, when I think about it, I kinda want to cry. Guys, I’ve been longing for stuff like this to do with God forever. I’ve been longing to not feel afraid forever. What if faith meant creativity and silliness and honesty and boldness and truly saying, “Behold: be not afraid?”
Let’s find out. Pick up your copy, and follow along. I dare you.