“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
~ Mother Teresa~
For a few years I’ve been meeting weekly with some other women for Bible study. There is no study guide and really, no teacher. Throughout the week we read independently, using journaling to respond and make notes of key verses. It’s been amazing to camp out in a chapter for a few days, reading and rereading, comparing translations and investigating commentator’s notes. I’ve already shared in last week’s post how this has kindled a love for the Word in my heart.
I recently discovered the wonderful craft of Bible journaling. I’ve searched around
the internet and found some amazing blogs by people who have become Bible artists. I have zero talent for drawing and painting but I love to work with color and I can trace and copy pretty well. I find inspiration and encouragement from sites where others who are also not artists have taken up coloring in their Bibles. I love adding this dimension to my notes and sometimes I get carried away and end up with a bit of a mess, but I love that it encourages me to let passages simmer in my heart and intentionally respond to them.
Perhaps you are wondering why the obsession with writing and adding colorful words and pictures to the pages of my Bible. I’m 61 years old, and while I hope there are many years left in me, I’m more aware every day of my mortality and the reality that life is uncertain. I long to leave a legacy for my family. I want them to have reminders and reassurance of my faith and confidence in God and the promise of eternity. Recently I’ve discovered precious reminders, left by my mother, that helped me realize it was her who started me on a path toward my relationship with Christ.
I grew up Catholic. While my siblings and I all experienced the sacraments of first Holy Communion and confirmation, there was a falling away from the church before I reached junior high. I’m not sure exactly what happened, but I recall that my mother was hurt and in defense, she pulled back. Going to mass as a family and observing holy days was a thing of the past, but I have very vivid memories of my mom’s continued devout faith. As long as I can remember, she owned and cherished a Catholic missal, a liturgical book containing the prescribed prayers, instructions, and chants for the celebration of Mass. When family members passed away she would slip a memorial card or obituary into the pages for safekeeping and prayer. Today that book is in my possession. It has great value to me as it did to my mother. To her, it was the familiar, the comforting words of the Mass she had grown up with. For me, it is an icon, treasured by her and reminiscent of her faith in God.
When I began dating my husband we attended church with his family at a local Baptist congregation where I eventually became a member. Only as I’ve grown older have I appreciated how my Mother grieved over my decision to pursue another denomination. However, I know (and it comforts me that I believe she realized it as well) that it was her faith that first pointed me to God. While I follow a different faith tradition today, the deep roots of my desire to know God and to be in a right relationship with Him are borne out of her example of faith and determination to lead her children to God.
My brother passed away last year. As family members made preparation for his memorial, I began to sift through a bin of photos and other items that were gathered from my parents’ home after Daddy died. As I sorted and searched for pictures of Steve, I ran across a small certificate commemorating my first Communion. It was one of very few items other than photos that were there. With six children, stuff tends to get lost or destroyed before it can be safely tucked away. But there it was. I turned it over in my hands, thinking of how long it had been there, waiting for the day that I would come across it and finally realize that it was my mother who first pointed me to the Father.
I love having the Bible on my iPad and better yet, on my phone! When I’m studying, one of my favorite tools is viewing the passage in side by side translations on https://www.biblegateway.com/. But as I’ve thought about leaving a legacy of my love for the Word of God, I’ve come to the conclusion that my notes on a device won’t last like they will on the pages of the study Bible that lays open on my desk, surrounded by pens, washi tape, stickers and paint. As I highlight and illustrate and record my responses to the Living Word, I pray that even when I’m gone they will encourage and remind my children of their mother’s faith. As clumsy and awkward as it is, it’s legitimate.