Friday, July 29, 2016


When I was in high school, every student was required to meet regularly with a guidance counselor to make sure they were staying on track and making the best decisions for their academic career. Your guidance counselor your freshman year would be the same guidance counselor all four years of high school, so that the one who helped you adjust to high school life would also help you adjust to leaving it behind.

Unfortunately for my guidance counselor, I had a lot of issues that stretched well beyond my schoolwork. Fortunately for me, she had a degree in helping crazy people like myself live life.

I don't remember exactly when, or how, but at some point, it stopped being about how messed up I was (a term, of course, she never used), and started being about Jesus. I still remember how confused I felt when she held up a holy card depicting Jesus knocking on a door, and told me that he wanted me to let him into my life. I stared blankly and wondered why this was being discussed. I thought I had far more pressing issues than a lack of religiosity.

At some point, my guidance counselor gave me her Bible from a retreat she had gone to, and told me to keep it. I did. It came to me in almost perfect condition -- with the singular exception of "MEG - Tec 128" written in blue sharpie on the bottom and right sides. It didn't stay that way for long.

It gave me something to do in class besides daydream. Its pages are lined with doodles; the front cover and title page are filled with notes of homework assignments I didn't want to forget scrambled in alongside the name of a lover written over and over (I apologize for being a teenager at one point). The O's of the printed lettering of the title page are filled in with black pen, and a red squiggle makes its way across the bottom right corner.

At some point, I stopped doodling and started reading.

The Gospel of John is marked sporadically with red and black ink; entire Psalms are highlighted. There are notes in the margins and tabs marking the start of different books. Some corners are folded and some pages are ripped. It has been used and loved in a way that other religious books I own have never been. Religion fascinated me; the Bible drew me in.

This Bible which once accompanied me to all my classes and to sleepovers and even to events and situations that were in stark contrast to its commandments now sits on my bookshelf, one Bible among several. The binding is held together by purple duct tape. Some of the ratty edges of the cover have been replaced with clear tape. Some of the pages are wearied by a spilled Dr. Pepper. It isn't pretty, and wouldn't be taken by any thrift store anywhere.

I took it down tonight to see if I could go back. Back to a time when my soul was lost, but searching -- before it was found, and lazy. When my mind was dark, but hungry -- before it was busy, and tired. When my heart was blind, but open, reaching into the night and searching with eager arms for the course hairs of a face matted with blood spilled for me; for the strong arms outstretched and the feet as dusty as the road and the face -- the real face -- of the God of the ages. When I didn't see Jesus, but I knew him, and I wanted to feel him near me. Unlike now, when I know where to find him, and I turn my face away for "more important" things.

This Bible tells a story -- a love story. Of course, every Bible tells "the" story -- of God and man and salvation. But only this Bible tells this story: the story of a battered and broken me finding a battered and broken God in the wreckage of my life. Of the word of God which would tolerate a few minutes of misuse in exchange for a few minutes of teaching. Of the Spirit of God which patiently rested between the pages while I drank or smoked or hooked up or whatever. Of an interest which became a passion.

I have forgotten that this is where much of today began. I have lost the habit of studying the Scriptures for the purpose of knowing God, rather than the purpose of writing a paper. Where the door to my heart was once left propped open, it is not only shut, but the curtains are closed.

And someone is knocking.