At work, sometimes, I’m sent free things. It’s one of the lovely perks of working in PR…companies send samples and products and the packages I receive can be chocolates, cookies, CDs or books.
Each parcel is different but on the whole, even though the box is addressed to me, I usually share what I’ve been sent. Books and CDs go into radio competition giveaways, chocolates and sweet things go to the staff dining room to be shared out.
At the beginning of last year though, looking at my well-thumbed (20 year old!) Bible, I started to think that I probably needed a new one.
Now, I love my Bible, I love doodling in it and underlining stuff that feels meaningful. And I love looking back, years later and remembering all of God’s faithfulness and mercy. I think this is something I’ve inherited from my dad. His Bibles, over the years have always been filled with notes and exclamation points and lovely revelations.
So I decided that if I needed a new Bible, it would have to be a special one, with room to scribble in. I did a bit of research and finally found a new journaling Bible which had just been released on the market. It had wide, open spaces for writing notes in the margins and I could even colour in different areas of scripture, if I wanted to. It seemed perfect.
I fully intended to order it but somehow didn’t get round to it. Just a few days later, unexpectedly, I received a package at work, from a publisher and in it were two sample copies of the exact same Bible I’d seen and settled on. I couldn’t believe it! This was absolutely from God, surely? He wanted me to have this Bible?
Whereas I’d normally pop this Bible in the ‘giveaways box’, I instead took this one home. After all, it was addressed to me and it was the exact one I wanted.
When I arrived home, I dropped the Bible on the sofa, looking forward to settling down later and having a good flick through.
And that’s when the trouble began.
As the night wore on, it seemed (in my mind) that this Bible had taken on a life of its own. It seemed to create an almost uncomfortable presence….if it could glow and burn a hole in my sofa, it would have.
Almost imperceptibly, I heard that still small voice say,
Take it back. It’s not yours.
But Lord (said I). It’s the exact one I want.
Take it back. It’s not yours.
In the end, that still, small voice was so urgent, I had to place the Bible by the front door, as a sign to say, ‘ok, ok, I’M TAKING IT BACK’.
The following morning, I took the Bible to work and put it in the giveaways box, almost immediately feeling a sense of relief that it was now out of my hands. I didn’t understand why I’d been nudged to return it, but I figured that someone, somewhere needed it more than I did.
Fast forward quite a few months later and I was by now knee-deep in the process of buying a house and organising new furniture and colour schemes etc. I’d also just returned to the office after a week of working in Scotland.
My colleague who’d been with me up North, just happened to mention she’d bought me a little gift for my new house.
She said she’d felt God had told her to buy this specific item and to my complete astonishment, when I opened the gift, there was the exact same Bible…except there was a crucial difference. This one was in a colour I didn’t even know the publisher stocked, a colour which perfectly matched my new table, next to the chair where I normally sit to read my Bible.
I asked my friend, ‘how did you know?’
‘I didn’t’, she replied. ‘I just felt God wanted me to get this for you’.
In that moment, it was almost as though I heard God say with a smile, ‘you can keep this one’.
I don’t know why God didn’t want me to have the original one, but I can only assume that the person who would receive it, needed it much more than I did. I hope whoever they are, they’re hugely blessed by it!
I may never get to know (in this lifetime) why he does things like this, but I know that when God speaks and nudges us to not do something, it’s always important to listen and obey.