The Christmas I received my first Bible is very special. It was a Blue leather Bible, with my name engraved in gold—Shelli Ann Fomby. My father presented it to me. I adored it. I still have it.
A good friend highlighted in her Bible, so I thought I’d give it a whirl. I must have been seven or eight. I thought it looked pretty, so I began highlighting. Not special verses … just verses. Any verse, just to add color. And I used pink, blue, orange, yellow highlighters. I wanted it to be pretty.
I’m not the quickest learner. After a while, I noticed that the highlighter had bled through my Bible’s thin, satiny pages. The colors were too bright, too dark. The Scripture it had bled over to on the following page wasn’t marked neatly. I had ruined my Bible.
I remember sitting in church by my friend.
“Turn to chapter so and so, verse so and so,” the pastor would say.
I’d barely crack open my Bible, so afraid that someone would see how stu … I won’t use the “S” word. But I had been it. Covered with shame and embarrassment, I didn’t want anyone to see.
My church gave me a Bible when I accepted Christ. My mother made the sweet cover.
I came to love this Bible. It’s funny looking at it now, because it has pictures of teenagers in it. They’re all hippies. Bell bottoms. That’ll date me. But this Bible was great because at the back, it contained a collection of directions. Spiritual directions.
“When you’re feeling lonely, left out: Luke 6.”
“When you’ve said something you shouldn’t: James 3.”
“When you’re struggling to do right, and can’t quite make it: Romans 7-8.”
“When you want to find out what true love is: 1 Corinthians 13.”
And I loved that new Bible because it covered my mistakes. No one could see my mistakes.
The new covered the old.
Y’all, I made some costly mistakes as a teen—definitely not the highlight of my life—that bled over into many other areas of my life. I felt so ugly. I thought I had ruined my life.
I don’t go into detail, I’m a concealer, because I might possibly shatter if I did. But I have no doubt God will have me sharing it one day … because I know Him and well, because He knows me. And well, because He knows we’re at our best when we’ve been completely shattered, completely broken.
As I grew closer to God, I realized that I hadn’t ruined my life. I also realized that I hadn’t ruined my Bible. God’s Word is still there. Jesus’ words in red are still there. It’s just different.
Areas of my life had simply been highlighted, turned more colorful, changed … for the sole purpose of ministry. It’s a testimony.
No, sin is not good. But God is. And He delivers Romans 8:28, just as He promises.
When someone sits near me, I shamefully turn the Bible over to hide the front cover. My name wasn’t engraved properly. And I don’t want people to think I spell my name with a “y” instead of an “i.” They’ll think they’ve been spelling my name wrong, all along.
But that Bible is so torn up, y’all. Pages are worn. Maps falling out. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s a testimony of the tearing of my life, the falling apart, the rebuilding, the begging, the clinging, the seeking, the tears, the laughter. All my Bibles boast it. It’s not vanity, it’s sentimentality.
How I ruined my life and my Bible led me to the highlight of my life—this amazing journey with God. And He bleeds over into every area of life, making me new.
And I have to ask—how on earth could I have it any other way?