How often do you buy a new Bible? How often do you try a different translation?
A woman recently shared in a book review that she thought my book would have been better if I had stuck to quoting from a single translation of the Bible. Some people only stick with a single beloved version. I believe it’s a matter of personal preference, and what works for her doesn’t work for me.
I struggled to read, study, and understand a highly-cherished version of the Bible for years. For Christmas 2003, my neighbor gifted me with a large-print New King James Bible. I didn’t immediately appreciate it, but it’s my go-to Bible now. I’ve long outgrown the tiny fonts that come with compact editions of the Bible.
My other study bible had lots of notes in it already, and this large-print NKJV was still a blank slate. That’s why I chose to bring the NKJV with me in 2013 when I attended my first Be In Health conference. This ministry emphasizes God’s word and testimony to establish an atmosphere of healing. During the meeting, I took a green marker and highlighted all of the scriptures about healing. This NKJV is now the one I refer to as “my healing Bible,” and though the pages are falling out of this precious book, I love it all the more.
I have, or have had in the past, parallel Bibles, study Bibles, Red-letter Bibles, and even the Tanakh. I’ve had NKJV, NIV, ESV, NLT, TLV, and many others. Some stay with me, and others don’t work out, so I give them away.
In 2017, I bought The Passion Translation Bible. Wow! That was a life-changer! This Bible is a paraphrase, but it speaks to the heart, and I’ve read it more than any other Bible I’ve ever owned. As I’m flipping through its pages this morning, I stop at John 8:47.
“If you really knew God, you would listen, receive, and respond with faith to his words. But since you don’t listen and respond to what he says, it proves you don’t belong to him and you have no room for him in your hearts.”
In the margin beside this verse, I wrote “OUCH.” God’s corrections are so lovely. Don’t we want to receive corrections when we’re wrong?
I don’t buy a new Bible every year, but I purchased a NLT Helpfinder Bible this year. It sits open at the table for ongoing reference as I pray or journal with God. In 1 Corinthians 16:6-7, Paul writes, “Perhaps I will stay awhile with you, possibly all winter, and then you can send me on my way to my next destination. This time I don’t want to make just a short visit and then go right on. I want to come and stay awhile, if the Lord will let me.”
That last part stood out to me- “If the Lord will let me.” I understand Paul’s heart. He’s telling his friends in Corinth, “This is what I want to do, but I will ultimately do whatever the Lord asks of me.” He’s saying, like Jesus, “Not my will, but Thine.” (Luke 22:42) Paul had already made up his mind about following Jesus. He lived a lifestyle of trust and faith in God alone- no matter what the situation or circumstances appeared to be otherwise.
I’m still growing in this area.
For me, each different translation is an opportunity to hear and experience God’s word afresh. The slight variations of wording sometimes help unlock meaning. Besides, a new bible is like a blank canvas begging to be underlined, highlighted, and written in. I don’t draw, color and doodle in my Bibles, but some do. No rule says you can’t.
Whether you’re led to use and reference a single version of God’s word, or explore many different translations of His word- the point is to spend time with God. Sit with Him. Learn from Him. Allow the truth of His words to bring correction and draw you nearer to Him.
When I’m not reading the Word, I’m listening to it on the Audible app. Hearing God’s word is like going to God’s house and sitting around the Lord’s table rubbing shoulders with all the saints as they pass the bread and share their stories. Just as I honor others and celebrate their unique personalities, I also honor and behold the beauty and wisdom of God's Word in different Bible translations.
Have I always done this? No. But over time, I’ve discovered what works best for me. I trust that you’ll find what works best for you, too. For those who hunger for more of the Lord, I say, “Draw near to Him, and He’ll draw near to you.” (James 4:8) Purpose within your schedule, mind, and heart to do so, and see for yourself the supernatural spiritual growth you’ve longed for!
God’s love and peace to all!