I haven’t been able to find time to take photos for the past few months. Hopefully that changes in the near future. Today, you’ll just have to use your imagination!
I remember the day I received my first study Bible. It really wasn’t all that long ago. It was summer. I was getting ready to head off to college. That was when God started dropping sweet, subtle hints that I would soon recognize.
Earlier that year I had been dating a boy from my high school who had taken me to the youth group meetings at his church. After we broke up, I continued attending church there for a few weeks and met a passionate young man who wanted so very badly to show me the love of Jesus. I was a bit turned off by his zeal but also wanted to be kind, so when he asked me if he could bring me a Bible, I said “sure.”
A few days later he showed up on my doorstep with a brand new NIV study Bible. I thanked him and never again returned to that church. I’m not sure why. It’s possible I thought he was weird and was avoiding an awkward situation. Or it may have had nothing to do with him, and I just got busy getting ready to leave for college.
I wonder what he thought about it all. After spending his own time and money to bring me such a sweet, special gift. And then never to see me again. Did he question his tactic, worried that he scared me away? Did he think poorly of me, that I took such a nice gift and gave nothing in return? Or maybe he knew that God had His own timing for me, and his actions were simply a road sign on my journey.
That Bible laid in my dorm room untouched for several months after I arrived at the University where I would soon learn much more about myself than any area of academics. Those first months as a young, naive girl in a new world were extremely hard. It would have done me good to pick up the Word, the gift I had been given by an ambitious young man eager to reach out to someone trying to find her way.
At that time I got turned around and was led astray, followed the wide path, too afraid to be different. Gratefully, I can say God protected me in spite of my mistakes and beckoned me gently yet persistently until I could no longer ignore His call. It was only a short time, it could have been years. I praise the Lord continually for that.
Thinking about all of this, my journey to find the One who makes me whole, reminded me of that boy. The one who stood on my doorstep and handed me a treasure. God used him to plant a seed, but he never got to see the harvest. My life is so different now, my purpose and drive centered on the Creator and not worldly things.
That boy will never know how often that thick study Bible got used. He’ll never see the highlighted verses and the notes scribbled in the margins. He won’t know I had to cover the outside with duct tape to keep it from falling apart. He hasn’t seen the stickers that were placed on the front page by a young girl at my church who so desperately needed a friend to listen to her talk about her struggles. He didn’t get to see me sitting on the living room floor of my college minister with that duct taped Bible open wide, taking in the lessons and encouragement His Word offers us. He doesn’t know that Bible was lost one year ago when our house was taken by a fire, and how my husband and I leaned on the Lord to pull us through, and the blessings we have experienced because His Word has taught us how to carry on.
Even if I wanted to, I could not tell him these things. I could not tell him what this precious book has brought me through. I don’t remember his name or even what he looks like.
The story of this boy and his courage has taught me something about pressing onward. The labor can be hard. It can be awkward and frightening. And after we muster up all of our strength to do this work God has for us, we may never get to see the harvest. It can become so tiresome that it doesn’t seem worth it. Why keep living life like this day after day, if we never get to see the results?
We must trust that there are results. We must believe our work is not done in vain, that God in His own perfect timing will bring about the harvest even if we’re not present. I will hold onto His promise to complete the work He has started and I will choose to believe that seeds are sprouting, blossoming, and being harvested all over the world even though I can’t see them. As Paul said, I will keep pressing on toward the prize. I will keep loving and serving those around me. One day in heaven, maybe I will get to meet those who God has allowed me to be a part of their journey. And to meet the young man who gave me directions along the way.
Oh, what a beautiful day that will be!