Life in the margins

Throughout my Bible there are notations in the margins.  They may be quotes from different preachers or teachers that I heard as they opened the Word to me and helped my eyes and heart to see a deeper truth.  There are handwritten notes about language of origin and meanings of words in their original Hebrew or Greek from when I was teaching on a particular topic and there are a few sticky notes next to a few verses with questions on them.  Questions I’m still waiting on the answers for and wondering if I’ll ever know or be…

Some of the notations are dates—specific dates when I grabbed on to a particular promise or when I heard God speak to me in a trial or difficulty or question of life.  There are dates that reflect God’s promises fulfilled for me, ones that mark verses I’m still waiting to see completed in or for me and ones that I know aren’t about me as much as they are for people I love.  Seeing those dates written in their various colors of ink and some of them faded and some of them brand new, immediately takes me to the times I wrote them there.  They would be meaningless to anyone but me.  For me, however, they are huge screaming road signs about my walk with Christ over the past 25 years—that’s how long I’ve had this particular Bible and when God really began to become my God.

There is one date that is completely out of place, however.  No one but me would understand the significance of it and there have been quite a few times when I’ve been tempted to blot it out entirely.  Each time, however, I make the choice for it to remain.  It is a “lesson date” for me:  my own personal reminder that I am to be a 2 Timothy 2:15 person:  “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”   

This particular date was written at a time when I wanted what God wanted for me—as long as it was what I also wanted.  I thought I knew exactly what that was on both counts.  I was so sure I had it figured out and determined to have it ‘my way’ that I even used Scripture to bolster my belief that my choice was right and that God was actually promising me that my desire would be fulfilled.  It wasn’t. 

It wasn’t the right attitude, the right life choice, the right interpretation of Scripture–it wasn’t the right anything for me.  I didn’t know all that at the time, so I dated it and claimed it…and was absolutely crushed when it all fell apart.  There was nothing unholy or inherently wrong about my desire.  It just wasn’t part of God’s plan for me to have what I so desperately wanted right then. 

So there it stays…the notation of my folly on so many levels…and the reminder that God knows my true heart and forgives me when I mess up so terribly, when I misinterpret what He’s saying and when I am hard-headed and want my own way.  I used to have a sinking feeling whenever I saw it, but now I choose to remember His grace in the situation, His protection and mercy in not giving me what I wanted then and how grateful I am that He had a different plan.

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