Friday, August 17, 2012

Daily Devotional Changes

Earlier this year, I treated myself to a new Bible. I had desperately been wanting to replace my loved but outgrown New Living Translation (NLT) Teen Study Bible. A good friend gave me that Bible as a gift when I was in 5th grade! I loved and treasured it, but I felt the need to move on to a more standard translation (that my church uses) and to a Bible that was suited for me: a married twenty-something woman.

To no surprise, my hunt began for the perfect Bible. I searched high and low in book stores, I read all the reviews on Amazon, but it took me months to actually settle on a Bible to buy. Why? Because I was so concerned about what translation to buy or what kind. There are tons of Bibles out there, so my search was only made harder by the dozens of choices there are. There are women's study Bibles, daily devotional Bibles, Bibles with the date on the top for what to read every day to read the whole Bible in a year, leather Bibles, paperback and hardback, purple and pink Bibles, ones with book marks and ones without - the options are endless! But I finally did decide to get a new Bible, the NIV New Women's Devotional Bible (by Zondervan).

The Not-so-Perfect Bible 

Thanks to modern technology, after I ordered it I was able to track where it was until I received it in the mail. I was highly anticipating the new Bible. I had finally made a decision, and the perfect Bible will soon be here! I thought. When it arrived, I opened it as soon as I could. I was seriously never more excited in my life to open a package (hey, it's not often that you replace your Bible!). Upon opening it, I was immediately disappointed. My "perfect" Bible already had a dented-in corner of it's sturdy hardback cover. *Sigh* It was "tainted" from the start.
My old and new Bible

Then, upon opening it and checking it out, I realized that there were no side notes or extra footnotes like my previous Bible had. The book had no dazzling "extras" like my study Bible; it was the Word and one page daily devotionals. That's it?! I thought. Before I ordered it, I think I must have assumed that the new Bible would be everything my old Bible was and more, that it was the same but even "better." But it wasn't the same at all. The layout was different and it was "missing" all the handy explanations that I was used to. I was disappointed again for I felt that it lacked something it should have (and oh, how wrong I was!).

Furthermore, something that drove me absolutely bonkers when I first used this Bible is that it has days of the week printed on the bottom of the devotional pages. So it will say "Monday" on a certain devotional, and "Tuesday" on the next, and so on. This irritated me because, if you are to start in Genesis at the beginning, the first devotional is labeled Monday. But the beginning of every year does not start on a Monday! I seriously let this small imperfection (in my mind anyway) drive me crazy for a while. To me, the days of the week should have been left out so you could start anywhere and not be "off" on your days. And if I got "off" on my days of the week, I would do multiple devotionals or skip devotionals just to be on the "right" day of the week!

I once thought this Bible was so lacking mostly because it was just structured so differently than my previous Bible. My previous Bible is a study Bible meant for newer Christians with a lot of questions. The Bible had all kinds of explanations of verses, question and answer sections, a great subject index, end of book discussion questions, and more. This was the only Bible I had ever had, so I assumed that all Bibles had all this stuff in it. Unless you get a study Bible, most Bibles actually don't have any extras at all. My own expectations led me to believe that my new Bible wasn't "perfect" enough. I even went back to my old Bible for a while because I was so reluctant to change. I wanted to like the new Bible, but it was hard for me to adapt to a new way of doing my devotionals. 

The Perfect Bible 

Despite my feelings then, God has shown me that this Bible is so perfect for me in so many ways. All of the little things that I chose to let irritate me for the first day or week that I had the Bible have subsided. I don't mind the dents, and now there are even more dents from all the times I use it. I don't mind that there aren't little extras because now I actually focus on the Word of God instead of human explanation of what it "truly means." And I don't mind the days of the week on the pages anymore either - if I get "off" on my days, it'll work itself out sooner or later.

Because I've stuck with the devotional plan and have actually been experiencing what God intends for me to see, read, and feel - all of my previous feelings of doubt have dramatically changed in a matter of months. The start of the devotional plan started out rocky because I was reluctant to change, because I wanted "perfection" that only I could fathom, that I thought I was responsible for. I was fearing that the reading plan wasn't going to be right or enough. But it's more than enough - it's my daily bread that I can't wait to get to in the morning. Sometimes, that day's reading will be spot on with what I am feeling, needing, or praying about. And I just can't help but think that there is anything more perfect than God working in my life like that!

In the end, there should be no question about whether or not there is a "perfect" Bible waiting for you out there. The Bible is perfect. As Psalm 18 says, "The Lord's word is flawless." While I was foolish to believe that I could somehow deliver to myself a perfect kind and translation of Bible, the devotional Bible that I currently use is absolutely perfect for me for where I am now. God put it in my hands for a reason - to grow and change me! It's not always easy to say yes to change when He comes knocking, but He is always changing things for the better, despite what we feel or think. Now my devotional reading is my favorite time of the day.

What are your thoughts? Could your devotional time use a God-sized make-over like mine?

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