1,071 verses down; 6,887 verses to go! 28 chapters down; 232 chapters to go! 1 book down; 26 books to go! This morning I felt a huge sense of accomplishment and victory as I finished handwriting the gospel according to Matthew. At the beginning of this year, I made a personal goal and decision to handwrite the entire New Testament in the course of 2018. I added up all the verses and determined that in order to complete this goal, I would need to write an average of 22 verses a day. I went to Michael’s and purchased a large blank hard bound journal, bought some new pens, and went to work. I had visions of my future grandchildren, even great grandchildren, looking at the pages that I was getting ready to write as they sat in their parents’ laps listening to God’s word being read! This thought brought my heart great joy (3 John 1:4)!
As I began, I decided that I was going to add some special touches that would really make this project personal. After all, these are God’s words of life to me. These are God’s words of life to you. It is personal! In addition to making my Bible a red letter edition, I decided that I would also emphasize key words and phrases from each book so that the message would really pop out of the pages. I also wanted to highlight some of my favorite verses by writing them in special lettering.
There are many resources where you can find the key message, words, and phrases for each book, but I love Frank J. Dunn’s book, Know Your Bible: Analysis of Every Book in the Bible. I plan to use this book throughout the entire project. For the gospel of Matthew, this book identified the key words as “kingdom,” “kingdom of heaven,” and “king,” – which I decided to write with green ink. The key phrase is “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet…” – which I decided to write with blue ink. Finally, I decided that all the words that were direct Old Testament quotations, I would write in cursive.
Why did I decide to do this? I absolutely LOVE to teach Bible Classes. I love to teach children’s Bible Classes, and I love to teach ladies Bible Classes. I learn so much teaching these classes and I love being able to share the things that I have studied and learned. The desire that children and ladies alike have to fill their minds with the words of God brings me so much encouragement and I am inspired by each class I teach. But I still felt like my own personal study of God’s word was lacking. I found myself only studying the things that I was preparing to teach and wasn’t doing much study for myself. Does that make sense? Surely, I am not the only one that has felt this way! Ultimately, I decided to do this project for myself! I wanted to spend more time meditating on the words of God for myself! I wanted to spend more personal time allowing God to speak to me through His inspired word. I am now 7 weeks into this project and it has already proven to be so much more enlightening than I could have imagined when I first started. Here are a just a few things that I have realized:
1. Writing takes a lot longer than reading!
I am and always have been a very slow reader. This is something that has been a source of frustration for me my entire life and something that I am working on. As slow as I am at reading, I am that much slower at writing. Plus, I want it to look nice so I am giving extra attention to every letter. But what a blessing this has been for this project! In my attention to every jot and tittle, I am able to read the words over and over again! Sometimes, by the time I have finished writing a single verse, I have read it anywhere from 5-10 times. I have seen and meditated on words that have been just skimmed right over in the past. This project has caused me to slow down even more and to really focus on the word of God!
2. The verse and chapter divisions that have been added by men can be unfortunate at times.
I chose to write my Bible without chapter and verse divisions. I wanted to write it in letter form to make it as close to how it was originally written as possible. I have loved this! So often, thoughts and messages and sermons are broken because of the chapter and verse divisions. In the past, if I got to a new chapter, I felt like that was a good place to stop, but as I am writing, I feel compelled to finish the thought and keep the context in tact even if I get to a new chapter. I wish I had done this sooner! Writing and reading it as a whole without these divisions has really helped me keep the order of events straight in my mind. There were several times as I was writing, that I thought, ‘I forgot that happened here!’
3. I am not perfect! Ha!
This is not a new realization obviously, but it is a reminder. I went into this project planning to be as careful as possible so that I would not make any mistakes. I was off to a great start! I was being so diligent and focusing so hard to keep it perfect, but then in chapter 9, I accidentally spelled bridegroom without the ‘e’. Ugh! I was so upset! I had worked so hard to keep it perfect, but fell short. I tried to fix it on my own by squeezing in the ‘e’ between the ‘d’ and the ‘g’, but my efforts to make it right weren’t successful. The mistake is still noticeable. I continued on being as careful as possible and was determined to not make another mistake. But guess what? I did! This time, I couldn’t just squeeze in a missed letter, I had written a completely wrong word. It was time to find the white out. As I blotted out this mistake (and several others that came later), I couldn’t help but think of Jesus! I couldn’t help but think of how much this was like life. As a Christian, I strive to live every day with diligence and focus so that I can make the same claim that the apostle Paul did in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.” But like the apostle, I fall short…daily! I cannot fix my shortcomings alone, and when I try, I just make a bigger mess of things. But, Jesus can! His blood has the power to blot out my sins – to completely cleanse me and make me whole. How thankful I am for His forgiveness and love! He can take me, imperfect me, and cleanse me from all unrighteousness!
4. While I started this project for myself, this project is not just mine.
My entire family has rallied around me and this project has become ours! My children love to stand and watch me write. They ask me what I am writing about. They want to flip through the pages and point out all the key words and phrases. They want to see all the highlighted verses and can’t wait for me to add new ones! As I was writing the Sermon on the Mount, my 8 year old kept coming back in awe that I was still writing with red! At one point, he exclaimed, “Wow, Mom! Jesus sure was talking a lot! He had a really long sermon. [He paused…] When I grow up and become a preacher, I think I’ll do a whole series of lessons from the Sermon on the Mount!” I hope to hear those lessons one day! My 10 year old son has already claimed this Bible for himself. He claimed it when I was only a page into it! He said, “Mom, I want this Bible so that when I am grown up and you are gone, I can always have this as a reminder of you and what you did.” Wow! Those are some pretty deep thoughts for a 10 year old. At first, I was taken aback that he said that, but then I thought, “What an incredible thing!” Those visions of my grandchildren sitting on my son’s lap listening to him talking about how Grandma wrote this Bible and them developing a love for God and His word might already be becoming a reality! My 8 year old has already told me that I’ll have to do this again next year because he needs to have one too! My husband and I have been able to have several conversations about the things that I have written. This project is not just mine – it is ours!
I have had several ladies tell me that they love this idea and would love to do something like it in the future. To them, I say, “Great! I hope you do! You will be blessed tremendously by doing this!” Others have told me that they don’t think they could do it, especially because they have young children running around. To them, I say, “I get it! I do! But trust me, you can totally do this!” Not only will pausing to meditate on God’s word make you a better wife and mother, it will make your whole life that much better!
I love to write in the morning. It makes the perfect start to the day. When I start the day with God, the whole day just seems to be so much better. But I don’t just write in the morning. I actually just leave everything on the kitchen table and come back to it multiple times throughout the day. Again, I know in my mind that I need to write on average 22 verses a day to complete this project within the span of this year. Sometimes, I can’t do 22 verses in one sitting. But I can easily stop and do a couple verses here and there throughout the day. What better sight for my kids to see throughout the day, then Mom writing and reading the Bible!
You can do this! Think about how many texts, tweets, pins, social media posts you write/read on a daily basis. You likely do those things in the presence of your children – why not write/read the words of life too? Make those a priority! I hate to admit that my children have had to tell me many times to get off my phone…but guess what? So far, they have never told me to stop writing my Bible. I want my children to see my priorities. I want them to know that God is first in my life. I want them to see me seeking Him, His kingdom, and His righteousness first.
I am more motivated than ever to complete my Bible! I can’t wait to see the finished project at the end of this year! 1,071 verses down; 6,887 verses to go! 28 chapters down; 232 chapters to go! 1 book down; 26 books to go!
by Julie Orr
Julie Orr was born in Phoenix, Arizona but spent the majority of her growing-up years in Northern Indiana. At the age of 14, she and her family moved to Mexico, Missouri, where she met the love of her life, Adam! After high school, she moved to Springfield, Missouri and attended Drury University, graduating with a Biology degree. She and Adam have been married 14 years and they have two boys, Evan (11) and Alan (9). Julie now spends her time raising and schooling her children in the home. She is blessed to work with the church in Midland, Texas, where her husband serves as a preacher. She loves teaching Ladies Bible Classes and working with the young children. Her greatest desire is to please God and do His will!