“Everyday of my life was recorded in Your book; every moment laid out before a single day had passed.” Psalm 139:16 This fascinates me - God planned the way He would use my life before I took my first breath. To whom, then, does my life story belong? Does it not belong to the Author who has written it? I make a beautiful mess of the Bibles I own. You might say they are seasonal. When major changes occur in my life, or after I fill the margins with what God is teaching me, I buy a new edition. Occasionally I change my translation. This, subdues the “I already read this” tendency that can occur with those who have my learning style, and it forces me to go before the Lord on fresh ground. A couple years ago the Lord blessed me with the opportunity to minister to a young person who was burdened with anger and bitterness. The burden was heavy, and I could see the effects it had on my young friend’s life, (when the Lord came for me, I was in a a similar state). During the time I ministered to my friend, I used a twenty-one year old Bible, I had named it “The Bible of My Tears”. It was the first Bible I ever purchased, and the one through which, as Paul says, I went from the milk, to the meat of the Word (Hebrews 5:12). That Bible contains the ashes God removed from my life, and demonstrates His faithfulness to turn an ugly heart into one that loves God and loves people - the beauty He gave me. The "Bible of My Tears" was among the spiritual treasures belonging to me, until the Lord revealed that it was to be given to my young friend. (2 Corinthians 1:4) I felt resistant and offended about giving it away. It was mine. My story of God’s love for me, and His redemption of all the enemy had tried to use in order to destroy me. I wanted to save the “Bible of My Tears” for my daughter. It was falling apart, I had taped the pages in so, as an adult, she could have it when she needed it. The offense I felt, about giving it away, wasn’t related to my notes, although some were deeply personal and painful. I am not the same spiteful woman, whose words were lethal. I wasn’t ashamed. The past has no power over me. I know to whom I belong. Nothing can effect God’s will for my life. However, I felt possessive of the Bible because I had my own plans for it. I couldn’t imagine why God would impress upon my heart to give it away. My property. My story. Mine or was it? I held the tattered Bible out to my young friend, my hands visibly shaking. “Not my will, but Yours be done Lord”. My friend looked concerned, and refused to take it. We had talked about the changes God made in me during a conversation when I counseled, “You must stand up everyday, and draw the Sword of Truth. Then you must do battle in order to overcome what is in you. If you draw near to God, He will draw near to you. He will meet you on the battlefield and fight for you, but you must stand up.” (James 4:8) My friend knew the pages were crinkled from many mornings of tears. We talked about God giving me the choice of Him or my own way. Those were hard places for me, and my friend heard that my tears were the result of the battle I fought against myself. It was clear that on those mornings God’s Word showed me my sin and proved me wrong, when I believed I was right. It was clear that God poured mercy on my situation, and grace on me when I lacked the courage or will to rise to meet His standard. And it was clear that the two things I felt made me strong, self-reliance and the sharp use of words, had to die on the altar. Only then could I pick up my cross to follow Jesus, (Luke 9:23). Knowing all of this, and that evidence of my transformation was in the Bible's margins, my young friend felt as if it was off limits, but at my insistence God’s will was done. The "Bible of My Tears" no longer belonged to me. I felt the loss deeply, it stung. It was a heavy moment of me releasing something precious to someone more precious, and for that one to learn through my tears to trust God in the hard places.
The next morning, as I lamented the loss before God, He consoled me with a sweet lesson. It changed how I saw the situation. When you’re teaching someone to fight spiritual battles, and they have no sword their own, sometimes you’ll have to sacrifice, and give them your sword - sacrifices hurt. The "Bible of my Tears" is a record of God lifting me from human weaknesses, dusting me off, teaching me how to do spiritual battle and standing me on my feet (2 Corinthians 12:9, Ephesians 6:17). The work the Spirit did in and through me, the prayers, the brokenness and the victories - evident on nearly every page of that Bible. He continues to refine and complete me today. (Philippians 3:12, my life verse) Prior to the Bible exchange, my young friend gave me a treasure, it belonged to a relative that passed away. My faith, I was told, was similar that relative's faith. I was honored to receive it. The "Bible of My Tears" which my friend has and the gift my young friend gave me connect us spiritually. I am keeping it safe, and one day should this precious one marry or request it otherwise, I will gift it back to their family's treasury.
God writes a story about each of us, and others call these our testimonies. The truth is, the stories belong to God. He is the Author. He allows us to re-tell them or record them in books, without paying royalties, but they are to be used for His glory. I have no idea how God will use the "Bible of my Tears", but some things are not for me to know. I must do as the Lord compels me, sometimes that’s planting seeds. Other times it’s watering what another has planted. Ultimately it is God who causes the growth, (1 Corinthians 3:6). What has God placed in your care that can be used to bless or encourage others? Release it to Him that He might multiply the blessing. He owns the rights to your story!