No one ever sets out to own fourteen Bibles. This is not a goal anyone commits to paper and tucks inside their wallet so that they can constantly remind themselves, “Someday, I’m going to own my bodyweight in Bibles!” No one hoards Bibles like a squirrel on purpose or smuggles them out of church in their pants legs. We never intend for this to happen, and yet somewhere along the way, in your Christian walk, you’re going to wake up one day and say, “Whoa, I own fourteen Bibles.”
It all starts off innocently; everyone needs a Bible, so you buy one. And you like it, it’s nice, but you didn’t realize how many options there were. You were expecting to go to the store and say, “I’d like to buy a Bible,” and have the guy behind the counter who probably would have a mustache and overalls and look vaguely like a character from a Norman Rockwell painting say, “Sure, got a fresh shipment in last night. Looks like it’s goin’ to be a cold winter; muskrats are running. Here you go. Enjoy your Bible.” But that’s not how it happened at all, is it?
When you show up to the store they pointed you to the Bible section. The section! There are rows and rows of Bibles.
You had no idea there were so many varieties. And so you started looking through them, but it’s overwhelming. Authorized version? Who authorized it? What does that mean? Are the rest of the Bibles considered unauthorized? Like that biography of Ralph Macchio you read?
Holman Christian Standard? Who’s Holman? How come he gets to set the standard? And what does Douay-Rheims mean? That’s fun to say, kind of like your favorite phrase, “nougat bungalow,” but what does that mean?
So you pace the aisles and try to find a Stuff Christians Like version but there’s not one…yet.
And then you just buy one. In a sweaty huff, you buy one and for a while it’s okay. But then you see your friend’s Bible. Then you read some other versions and you think, “I bought the wrong one. I need to get another one.” So you go back to the store months later, and you buy the one you like. Now you’ve got two, your first Bible, which is special for sentimental reasons, and your second Bible, which is now your “I’m going to read this one daily” version.
It’s great too. You love that Bible, but it’s awful heavy. Have you noticed that? Carrying it on trips is no fun, lugging it around church is kind of a hassle, and forget about putting it in your purse. It’s like putting volume “K” of the encyclopedia in there. Maybe you should get one that’s streamlined. Something small and compact and portable. Maybe with a magnet clasp. That would be a lot easier wouldn’t it? Now you’re up to three.
Then a holiday rolls around, and your family members or friends who aren’t Christians think, “What should we get him for Christmas or his birthday? What do you buy a Christian? How about a Bible? Christians love Bibles.” So you get one as a gift. Now you’ve got four.
Which isn’t too many; four Bibles isn’t obscene. But then you start a new Bible study group, and you’re going to read through Proverbs. It sure would be nice to write in your Bible, to take some notes and write in the margins, but the Bible you use has margins that are approximately .01 inches wide.
You would have to possess the precision of a Japanese blowfish chef to write in that Bible. And hey, look at this, there’s a new journaling Bible with notebook lines built right in. Welcome to Bible number five.
Five is good. We’re done at five. If we ever had to play a game of basketball against the Koran, we would be able to suit up an entire team. That’s enough. But then a friend comes over and, low and behold, you get to witness to them. You’re not even sure how that happened, but right there in your living room you’re telling them about how much God loves them. And they don’t own a Bible. You’ve got to give them a Bible; everyone needs a Bible. So you give them number two from your lineup, and you have to go back to the store.
Hmmmm, what if that happens again? What if you’re the next John the Baptist, and you’re on some kind of streak? How many houses are in your cul-de-sac? Eight. There are eight people who live near you who might need Bibles at some point. Now you’ve got twelve.
But what if they don’t come to you? What if you have to go get them? What if you’re visiting them, and they bring up God? Better get a spare Bible to keep in your car, a “car Bible” if you will. Now you’ve got thirteen.
And you’re not superstitious. Numbers don’t hold power over you. Sure seven is holy and six is evil, but thirteen isn’t unlucky. That’s just silly, and yet at the same time it doesn’t seem wise to own thirteen Bibles. And so you return to the store…
(This originally appeared in the Stuff Christians Like book. If you want to pick up a copy, click here!)