Friday, December 07, 2007

Grammy's Ragamuffin Bible

My Grammy says that everyone should have a ragamuffin Bible; one that they can mark up and make their own. She says, "If you must, or if you have to preach a sermon or do something official, get another Bible, plain and black, and take that to church and have it be your grown-up Bible. But when you're alone with God, pull out your ragamuffin Bible. I'm tellin' you, you'll never be the same!"

Back when I was a Western child, it was only a rare and EXTREMELY special occasion that I got to see Grammy and Grampy, who lived way out East in Maryland. But whenever I did get to see them, it was always with great excitement. Sabbath's were my favorite because my Grammy's purse was always full of unique sabbath toys that none of the other children at church had. And tucked away were her Sabbath "cough-drops" (which were actually butterscotch or creme savers) to occupy our mouths with something other than talking.

But my FAVORITE thing of all was my Grammy's Bible. It was well-loved and falling apart, but I was intrigued by the treasures I would find within its pages. Genesis 1 had stickers of bugs, animals, and birds. Exodus 8 was surrounded by bright green frogs and little black flies. Tucked away midst the pages about the sanctuary was a piece of linen like the fabric that the priest's wore. A few pages later was a braided cord in gold, blue, purple, and scarlet liked the colors used in the sanctuary. Jonah's story was graced with a humongous fish, which curved around the edge of the words. There was an endless amount of treasures just waiting for my eager eyes to search them out. I was always looking for the newest additions and fondly tracing my favorites that had been there ever since I could remember. It was in my Grammy's Bible that I was drawn to the Word of God for the first time. It became something more then just a book that I was told was special. It became a Book that would change my life.

As I grew older, and stickers lost my interest, I learned to find new ways to make the Bible come alive. I learned to dig deeper, past the surface stories, to what lay below. I learned to enjoy prophecy and I became fascinated with word studies and discovering the hidden truths behind every verse.

But every once in a while, I'll visit my Grammy again and take another look at her ragamuffin Bible. And I am reminded of why I first fell in love with God's word. It's fresh and alive! It's captivating! No wonder the little children flocked around Jesus. The secret to it's power lies in it's simplicity. The Bible says we must have faith like a child.

When I was a child, I believed. I knew that the stickers, while just colors on a page, represented real stories and real lives effected by God. Now, in my college life filled with analytical thinking and dissection, I want that simple belief of my childhood back. I want to be still and KNOW that He is God! I want to not only be certain that He will answer my prayers, but ACT on that belief!

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who then is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" And Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives on little child like this in My name receives Me." -Matthew 18:1-5


jon v said...

word...:'):tears of laughter..hope you have a great night..thx for talking today

TBird said...

wow! thoughts of descending a cave came to a mind as i read the progression of the Bible. That is so cool. I really really really appreciated the thoughts, i think that you could develop this into a great sermon, yes sermon and definitely Bible study. It is full of possible tangents for preaching and the "ragamuffin" as the operative word for the message would be absolutely amazing.

Paul said...

I bought Petra a nice new Bible for an engagement present, but she's rapidly turning it into a ragamuffin. It is full of all kinds of odd "treasures". Most of the verses seem to be underlined. She certainly uses it regularly.

This post helped me appreciate her style a bit more:-)



Little Christen said...

What an awesome Grandma! I wish I had one like her :) As for your last paragraph, I totally understand. I've been going through that phase lately, where God has been revealing to me how much faith I'm really lacking, and how I need to KNOW Him much more than I think that I do. Thanks for this post, Christy. It was quite the inspiration. :)

Anh said...

Christy! I feel like I'm witnessing a literary giant coming into her own. From leading with an anecdote to segueing into a universal lesson, you nailed everything my column writing instructors taught me years ago in Texas. It took me years of study and practice to get decent at my craft. You do it all by instinct.

Seriously... you should replace me as opinion editor at the Accent.

Keep writing for God.

Flame On...

Alex said...

Thank you for sharing some of your memories - reading the title I could instantly picture a number of "ragamuffin" Bibles I have seen. I can also picture my own bible, with it's vanilla stained pages from it's trip home from Peru and the water wrinkled pages from it's time there. The disattached cover, all the pictures and notes stuck in it at random intervals as well as my own questions and thoughts penned onto those pages - reading it is different than reading the very same passage in a different Bible of the same version. Kind of like the Bible patriarchs returning to places where there was a previous alter - where they had an encounter with God before to seek him again.

Christy said...

Jon: you, friend, are a gift from God!

Thomson: caves and sermons. ....a good combination :D

Paul: Each person certainly has their own style and opinion about their personal Bible. As long as we're spending time in the Word.....!

Likkle (yes, i wrote the two k's on purpose!) Christen: You'll have to meet my grammy! I think she might come down with my parents for the last orchestra concert of the year. She would love you :D :D

Anh: Oh dear.....

Alex: That's neat because my Bible has also been effected by my missionary travels. The cover started to peel (it's not leather) from the humidity. So the places we visit effect our Bibles, but do our Bibles (and our Christianity) effect the places we visit?!
Alex cont: It would be interesting to do a study comparing the different times people in the Bible set up alters to worship and record their different experiences, noting differences in repeat alter experiences.

Little Christen said...

Lol. Hey, did you publish this comment at 11:11:00 on purpose? That's quite amusing! :)

I was thinking more about my Bible. I think it could also be deemed a Ragamuffin Bible because I have it highlighted in so many places, notes scribbled all over, and sticky notes with longer thoughts posted in random places. :) I wouldn't trade it for a new one!

Caitlin said...

I love Grammie! :)

and I love my literary giant roommate... Ahn, giant just doesn't work for Christy :)

and I love my own ragamuffin bible! I've had it almost as long as I can remember, and we've been through a lot together! Full of colors, notes, leaves, flowers, and parakeet feathers...
It is comforting to have it close, to read the familiar favorites, and yet each expedition into its cavernous depths leaves me wide-minded with wonder!

It is always amazing how God can speak so vividly through its tattered pages... I guess it is because it is His own heart that is sketched out upon the parchment paper.

I've had to do restorative surgery with special adhesive - duck tape! :) I've been given others... but no other bible feels like home.

If the bible is God's heart on paper I guess it should feel like home!

Kristin said...

My response is much later in coming than intended. I wanted to write something meaningful. Instead I will probably say the same thing that has been echoed throughout the list of previous comments.

Ragamuffin Bibles are the best. They attach sentiment and value to the word of God compelling us to spend more time in it. My ragamuffin Bible was given to me when I was baptized and it was the last thing my grandfather gave me before he died. My Bible is filled with memories and I think it has started to look like me... Well, I mean, the notes hidden in it and the markings and thoughts penned there are pieces of myself.

I think that shaping ragamuffin Bibles is a way for us to begin ingraining God's word on our hearts.

"My son, keep my words and store up my commands within you. Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye. Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart." Proverbs 7:1-3

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