He lives near Milwaukee, Wisconsin and it doesn’t matter if the weather is freezing, he has always made it a point when I visit to go outside for an adventure. One particular winter he asked me to go on a hike. I’ll be honest — hiking in the freezing cold weather didn’t seem like fun to me, but I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to be with him. So we strapped on our shoes (after I borrowed an extra pair of socks) and we were off.
As we started into the crunchy frozen white snow it became clear that we would need something more than our footprints to lead us back out of the woods. Of course, my Grandpa had already thought of that. He had some small pieces of colored handkerchief and ribbon that he tied on a random brach here-or-there as we walked along the path.
“These will help us find our way back out…” he said, “… or it will help people come to find us when we are lost.” He chuckled as the last statement left his lips, but I wondered if there was some truth to it.
On we went, hiking and marking our trail as trudged through the woods. It wasn’t until we decided to head back home for some of Grandma’s hot coffee that I saw the power of the marked trail. If we did not have the small ribbons my Grandpa left behind, I don’t think I would be here to tell the story. We would still be an iceberg somewhere in the backwoods of Wisconsin.
Marking Your Trail Is Important
When it comes to reading the Bible, I believe that you must leave markers along the way to remind you where you have been. If you don’t mark your Bible, you will not remember what you’ve learned in the past and lose the power of knowing where you are going (or growing) in the future. A statement I say often is “An unmarked Bible is like an unmarked trail — if you can’t see where you’ve been, you won’t know how to return to the path you know you should be on.”
I have owned a lot (I mean A LOT) of Bibles in my life. Most of them have markings on the pages to show me what stood out in the past. The first Bible I remember spending a decent amount of money on was a bound leather Bible I ordered from England. I was 17 or 18 years old at the time. It was time to ditch my Teen Study Bible I had received from my relative (thanks Aunt Bettie! I still have it). I wanted something that had my own markings in it, not just sidebar commentary from the publisher. That Bible from England was the start of a journey to marking up the pages of many Bibles to come. As the Word of God left an impact on me, I wanted to leave a marked trail of what had stood out to me from its pages. Now I can flip through any of my Bibles and see the passages of truth that God has used in my past to make me the man I am today.
Why Highlight Bible?
There are several reasons I think that we should mark our Bibles. Here are just a few:
- It leaves visible reminders of what God has spoken to me and applied to my life in the past
- It helps me to return quickly to passages that I know made an impact on me
- It leaves a Bible (or Bibles) that can be passed on to my kids after I am gone
- It helps me be ready to give an “answer for the hope within” (1 Peter 3:15) quickly and biblically
- When counseling with someone, or talking with a friend, I can speedily find passages and my notes around them that will help me explain its meaning to someone else
We also have been told by God to hide Scripture in our hearts (Psalm 119:11). We do this for two primary reasons:
- To know God (Colossians 1:9; Ephesians 1:17).
- To not sin against God (PS. 119:11)
I believe that when I am enjoying God’s Word (treasuring it), I am highlighting it, writing in and around it, devouring it like a good book and walking away changed. To read it like a weak newspaper article, setting it down to not think of it again, is not how God’s Word is to be used. Rather, it is all that we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3) and we should weigh every word, highlighting, underlining, circling, staring, and expounding on what is most impactful to us.
When highlighting your Bible, don’t just try to make it your Bible pretty, but to help you make it practical. Find ways to fill your pages in such a way that with God’s guidance, you will be led back to being safe at home with Him, time after time.
Looking for a Bible that is great for both highlighting and taking notes? ESV makes a great journaling Bible! This particular one is large print – for those of us who are entering or have entered the years of avoiding the smallest prints. It also has a blank page next to each page of scripture text, leaving plenty of room for writing your reflections.
Check them out on Amazon to see other shapes, sizes, and prices of ESV Journaling Bibles!