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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Thy Will Be Done

I grew up reading my Bible, whether it was the little white NIV my Granny gave me for my baptism which I covered in stickers both on the back cover and every blank page I could find, or the little red NIV I found for sale in the library, or the large leather-bound NASB I toted religiously to church, feeling proud that I was reading a literal translation which would meet the scholars' approval. I brought a small blue ESV with me when I first arrived, as space was limited and I knew I needed an actual Bible to read from. I was still old-fashioned enough to want to read from a proper book instead of on a device that could never feel real and personal. It was hard enough not seeing my God, hearing Him, or touching Him, so I needed some form of tangible connection to Him.

In the summer, though, I returned with a larger Bible. This was a translation I had not allowed myself to read before, having been taught for 17 years at the conservative campus I lived on that anything other than the KJV, the NKJV, and possibly the NASB, was not sanctified or holy enough of a translation. I fought that stereotype for those 17 years but it was ingrained enough in me that I was somewhat suspicious of translations that leaned more towards the paraphrase than the literal.

Then one day, I was browsing in the library and my fingers touched the beige cover of an NLT. I casually opened it, and my eyes filled with tears as I saw a familiar name inscribed inside. It was the name of a man who had become a dear father to me, he estranged from his daughter and I from my father, we found acceptance in the not-by-blood friendship we shared. I paid the 50 cents and, taking it home, carefully wrote in my name after his, knowing he would never see it yet knowing he died with the assurance of what he'd never seen.

Even in hospice, battling the cancer that had viciously returned to eventually claim his life, he painstakingly typed up emails to me. They weren't long, but each word conveyed his love and how proud he was of me. I remembered his flowery Hawaiian shirts, his gruff manner that hid pain from the evil disease eating him up, and how quick he was to go to battle for me so I could work as a student in a job that helped me grow rather than stifled me. When I heard he'd died, I buried my face and cried. Was he afraid of death? I hoped not.

Yet even though the Bible was meaningful to me because it belonged to someone special, the words still didn't reach past the outer protective armor I'd learned to don at an early age from my TCK experience. You didn't allow the emotions to sink deep because then you felt and when you felt, you started to crack. And there were only so many cracks you could handle before your pieces couldn't be put back together again.

Until recently. I was reading a verse and instead of it automatically marching past my sensory grasp like many other verses had done in rote manner before, it seemed to assume a life of its own. The verse was no longer a fact--it was now a reality. My reality. Instead of being black lines on a page, they were words being spoken from a Father Who loved me even more than the man whose last name I never had.

The LORD has chosen me. He chooses me. At just the right time He will respond to me. He has written my name on His hand. If I wait for Him, I will never be put to shame. (Isaiah 49 & 50, paraphrase mine).

Those cracks? They are slowly being glued together piece by piece, with each word of truth that I allow to sink deep into my heart. Til one day I will be whole again.

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