Late last year, I decided to make a move; to try something different in my approach to studying the Word.
When I left the Mormon religion I walked away from 20 years of reading the King James Version of the Bible, which, quite frankly, I had become pretty adept at reading, but even with that it is triggering for me every time the formal English rolls off my tongue. Their founder, Joseph Smith “corrected” many of the entries throughout their published version of the book and literally changed the words of God. Just writing that makes my stomach tense.
When I began my journey out of that cult, I was offered an NIV Bible. It was a good place for me to start to better understand the Word in it’s correct form. One thing I was encouraged to do early on is to memorize scripture.
Those who know me well, probably know I have an identic memory – especially for words I read or dates. I can often close my eyes and literally see a page of a book by number and reread the words. This strangely doesn’t seem to happen in regards to the Bible.
I have a lot of trouble memorizing word-for-word a scripture.
I’ve often thought that this was God’s way of helping me avoid becoming prideful. If I could simply memorize the Word, I would be less likely to dig in over and over again. I know myself and I believe this to be true.
None the less, in my pursuit of trying to memorize scripture, I stumbled upon an artistic version of the NLT some years ago. It used scripture art in the margins, highlighting verses that could be colored and away I went. I thought if I took time to color a verse, repeating it over and over as I did so, maybe the words would stick in my mind more often.
After six years in that beautiful book, my notes were plentiful, my highlights were many, my attachment undeniable. I love the Word, that book, and that version.
So why change?
Late last year I had a gnawing feeling that I should buy a new Bible. And to change things up and gain a new perspective, I should invest in a different version. Low and behold, I found an NIV version that was also has the same artistic approach.
I went to breakfast one morning with a new friend, Catrina. I mentioned my decision to try the NIV for the year and that I had mixed feelings about closing the Bible that contained so many of my precious notes from the early years of my conversion to Christianity. And then she shared her approach and it was so freeing.
Every year she buys a new Bible.
Every. Single. Year.
She uses them as a journal of sorts. Her thoughts, insights, highlights, and introspections are different year to year. Both because each year we are different; we grow, mature (emotionally and spiritually), and the Word is living, breathing, and touches us in different ways in different seasons.
And with those words, and that thought imparted to me, I started diving in to my new NIV Bible.
It was a little overwhelming at first to see the pages so stark. I came to love, and feel comforted by the colors across meaningful verses, and seeing my handwritten notes next to scriptures that the Spirit impressed on me always makes me smile. It’s a warm remembrance of where I was and what struck me as profound at a particular moment in time.
And where would I begin?
I started with my favorite verse. Ephesians 2:10.
I’ll be honest. The wording is a little different. The NLT feels almost more…poetic to my ears. “For we are God’s masterpiece” strikes me differently than “For we are God’s handiwork.” But it also gives me a different perspective, a different awareness that I hadn’t had before. And really, isn’t that the point of my switch? To grow, to see things I hadn’t noticed before, to allow the Spirit to reveal new meaning in these Words to my heart?
The word masterpiece to me implies a beautiful, finished piece of art.
I envision the painter stepping back, looking at their glorious painting thinking, “well done, she’s perfect,”
Handiwork, however, makes me feel like I am well designed, but still a work in progress. I can still be molded and crafted as needed. God’s design for me is absolutely perfect, but my story is not yet finished. I will still have miles of growth ahead of me on my way to reaching the potential for which he designed me for in the beginning.
I’ve never, in the hundreds of times I’ve read that verse, had that thought before.
Currently, I’m digging back into Romans. I’ll be honest, there have been moments where I long for familiar wording; moments where I wish I could remember a former insight I had one of the other times I have read these very verses. But overall, I am happy for this new perspective on reading the Word.
Will I switch back at the end? I don’t know the answer to that. I guess time will tell. For now, I will look forward and continue digging in. I look forward to the crafting God is doing, and will continue to do as He shapes me heart and grows my understanding of His beautiful, living, breathing Word.