The Blessings of a Chicken-Scratched Bible

God's ways are amazing.  I've said it many times before, and I'm sure I'll say it many times again.  It never ceases to amaze me the care that He takes in the tiny details of our lives.   

Today was another one of those days.  Seems like they are coming often lately!  Worries were attacking from every direction.  

It seemed like a rather random thing.  A post on Twitter caused me to think of a verse I love.  I decided to stop what I was doing and reply with the verse.  I couldn't remember the reference, so I looked it up on Bible Gateway.  I scrolled through several different translations, but couldn't find the wording I'd memorized so many years ago. 

Then I Googled the wording I remembered.  Turned out it was from the 1984 NIV.  I decided I'd just missed it on Bible Gateway, so I went back and specifically looked for the 1984 NIV, which I knew had been there not too long ago.  

(Is this starting to sound like If You Give a Mouse a Cookie?  It kind of felt like it. :))

There was no listing for the 1984 NIV on Bible Gateway. 

So I Googled again. Isn't it amazing that we can find the answer to virtually any question online these days?  Lo and behold, I discovered that Biblica, the current publisher of the NIV, had given a 2-year transition period for both translations to be included on Bible Gateway, and when that two-year period ended earlier this year, they had the 1984 edition removed. 

This wasn't pleasant news, but no problem, surely the 1984 NIV was available elsewhere online. 

Except it wasn't. 

Further searching revealed that Biblica has had the 1984 NIV removed from all websites on which it used to be available. 

This did not make me happy. 

I have a particular attachment to the 1984 NIV.  Although my current translation of choice for study is the ESV, followed by the NASB and the Amplified, I used the NIV almost exclusively for many years.  It has a special place in my heart.  I'm not  happy about losing it for several reasons:

1. We have a history, the NIV and me. (NIV and I?  I am typing this post with my eyelids at half-mast; I am in no way capable of making correct decisions about grammar.  Forgive me, please?)  

Back to our history. :) Way back in 1978, Daddy and I went to church camp at BMA camp in Ringgold, LA, for the first time.  BMA camp would become one of our treasured family traditions, and one of the great influences in my life.  I've mentioned it here on the blog before, and someday I really should dedicate an entire post to it. 

Back to that first year, though, Dr. Kenneth Barker was the adult teacher that year.  We discovered that Dr. Barker was the head of the translation team for a new Bible translation, the New International Version.  Daddy spent some time talking to Dr. Barker that week about the translation, and about the team's dedication to accuracy in translation.  

Daddy was sold, and very soon we had new NIV Bibles. I still have that original hardback 1978 edition packed away.  I used it until I got an NIV Thompson Chain Reference Study Bible when I was in high school.  That was the updated 1984 version.  I loved those Bibles. 

2. I've memorized a lot of Scripture in the (old)  NIV.  Although I did a great deal of memory work in the King James during my BMA years, much of the Scripture I remember these days is from the NIV.  Some of that is from intentional memory work; some is just because that is what I studied for so many years and a lot of it stuck. :)  

With the older NIV now gone from online sites, much of the wording that I'm familiar with is gone as well.  The verse that started this whole thing this morning is a good example...Proverbs 21:1.  Here it is in the 1984 NIV:

The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.

That wording is seared into my brain. Here's the wording in the new NIV:

In the Lord’s hand the king’s heart is a stream of water
    that he channels toward all who please him. 

Not only is the wording changed, but the meaning isn't really the same, either. 

3. Which brings me to my third issue: the new edition has been changed in ways I'm not comfortable with. I had planned to write more on this point, but the post took a different turn in the meantime, which was probably just as well, considering the late hour and my burning eyes.  I may write more on this later. 

 I said this post took a different turn than I originally anticipated...again, in a bit of an If You Give a Pig a Pancake sort of way. :) Here's where I love the ways God works in the details of our lives. 

I had decided to do a {really short...ha!} blog post on the extinction of the older NIV.  I decided it would be really cool to take a photo of my original NIV for the post.  Then I realized that my original hardback NIV was packed away for safekeeping years ago, but I did come across my Thompson Chain Reference from high school and college.  It would do quite nicely for blog photos.  

As I was taking the photos, I began to flip through the pages of my beloved old Bible.  It is filled with what can best be described as chicken-scratches...hurried handwriting, crammed into too small margins.  

But as I stopped to read first one scrawled notation and then another, I realized what a huge blessing those chicken-scratches are.  They are history...my history, but more importantly HIStory in my life.  

My regular use of this particular volume spanned my late high-school and college years...years that included the death of my grandfather, the turmoil of a painful church split, the excitement and joy of helping start a brand new church, various health and job issues for my dad, my parents moving out of state and leaving me suddenly and rather unexpectedly "on my own", the answered prayer of their move back a year later, and numerous other major life events. 

The names, dates, prayers, and notes scribbled in those pages are another "standing stone".  They are reminders of things God taught me during those years, prayers He answered, and people He sent to impact my life.  They are reminders of how far He has brought me...and how far I still am from the goal, as I see things He was teaching me then that He is still trying to teach me today!  I see things He taught me in those years...25-ish years ago now...that very directly prepared me for the unexpected turns in the road of the last 10 years.  

Most of all...I see His faithfulness.  I see that He truly never changes.  I see His love and grace and mercy through it all.  

I needed those reminders...again...today.  Even tonight, as we've hit a few more bumps in the road, those marked-up  pages remind me that He is in control and He is with us always.  He has always provided all that we need, and He will continue to.  I am thankful for the blessing of those chicken-scratches, and for the care of our great God who brought them to my attention today just when they were needed most. 

Do you write in your Bible?  What is your favorite translation?  I'd love to hear in the comments! 

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