In 2001, my Bible was literally coming apart at the seams.  The leather binding was scuffed, scarred, and torn.  There were several sections (including most of Genesis, a large portion of II Corinthians, and the maps in the back) that had completely torn loose from the binding and would slip out and fall to the floor at very inopportune times.  Given the rather cozy confines of our assembly area in the modular building at the McDermott Road church, the condition of my Bible was clearly visible to many people in the congregation.  Among those who noticed the rapid disintegration of my Sword was I.B. Huff.

I.B. & Dolores Huff were among the first to place membership at McDermott Road after we started meeting on site in April of 2000.  I.B. was retired and was very skilled in the use of his hands.  He graciously contributed his time and talents in helping out with maintenance needs and repairs.  Although I.B. went home to be with Lord about 2 1/2 years ago, I am sure that there are still many handles, hooks, switches, hinges, and other hardware in the modular building that bear his fingerprints.

One Sunday, I.B. told me that he had some previous experience with book binding and repair and that he would be glad to take my Bible home and bring it back to me that Wednesday night.  Over the course of the next year or so, I.B. did two or three more emergency “patch jobs” on my Bible, even utilizing duct tape and then coloring it black with a magic marker.  Ultimately though, it reached the point of no return, and I was faced with the prospect of replacing my Bible.

The thought of buying a new Bible caused me quite a bit of anxiety.  While I had a couple of dozen Bibles in a wide variety of translations on the book shelves in my office, my personal Bible that I used in study, preaching, and teaching had become as comfortable to me as a well-worn glove.  I knew my way around it.  Even if I couldn’t remember the exact chapter and verse of a passage that I was looking for, I knew that it appeared in the right hand column of the left hand page near the end of Hebrews.  That kind of “visual memory” based on the layout of my Bible was invaluable to me.  How long would it take me to adjust to a different Bible?

Thankfully, I was able to find another New American Standard Bible (1995 Update) in the exact same edition by the same publisher.  Everything was laid out on the page precisely like my old Bible.  Passages of Scripture were in “their old familiar places.”  I was thrilled, but I learned a valuable lesson that has kept me from going through that kind of anxiety again.  Not knowing how long the publisher would continue printing that particular edition, I purchased an ample supply of them to keep in reserve.  I have retired two Bibles since then (yes, I’m pretty rough on them), but I still have three more, still shrink wrapped and in their boxes. 

This may never be a problem for you if you are not as OCD as I am or if you have transitioned to an electronic Bible in multiple translations on your BlackBerry, iPhone, Kindle, or Nook.  But, if you are old school like me about having a printed Bible, let me suggest that you “invest in the future” by buying at least a couple of additional copies of your preferred translation to save for the rainy day on which your Bible completely falls apart or is lost.  The peace of mind and comfort of spirit is well worth the expense!