When we lived in South Dakota the first year, we lived in a tiny apartment. The lady a few doors down from us took some getting used to. We learned she had some skin issues, so most of her skin was patchy and red, if it was there at all. She was the tiniest, skinniest woman I’ve ever seen in my life. She didn’t smell good and her apartment smelled worse.
Over time, we began to realize she was incredibly lonely. We would make a point of always greeting her until one day, she finally greeted us. We brought her a plate of goodies for Christmas and she told us that would be her only Christmas gift that year. That’s when I knew she needed a friend. We brought her flowers for Valentine’s Day and she cried. I began making a point of conversing with her on a regularly basis… and that’s when we found out she was an alcoholic. Not a closet alcoholic or social drinker alcoholic. An alcoholic who was told by her doctor that her liver was shutting down and she had just a couple months to live if she didn’t quit.
I began spending more time with her. I’ve never met anyone who was more hopeless. No family. No friends. No job. Just her cigarettes, her TV, and and her alcohol. Her skin was literally wasting away. Her hair was falling out. She hadn’t bathed in probably months, if not years. I have no idea what she ate, if she ate at all. It’s a wonder she didn’t have a car wreck considering she was never sober, but drove fairly often.
I slowly shared Christ with her because she could not comprehend how I was happy and content with life. I pulled out my Bible and read to her. I prayed with her. I counseled her as best I could considering I was 22, newly married, and never dealt with an alcoholic before. I drove her to church. I just sat and listened to her. I let her “play” my piano when she was drunk out of her mind and didn’t want to be alone. I let her cry.
I gave her my Bible.
I had a Bible that was given to me when I graduated high school. I used it all through Bible school and wrote all over the inside cover pages different truths/songs/verses that spoke to me. I took copious notes through Bible school in the margins so I couldn’t read through Romans without having most of my class notes with me. The cover was falling off. It was my Bible. Do you have one of those? One of those Bibles that is truly yours – your notes, your thoughts, your personal writings between you and God? There’s nothing else like it.
On a whim, I gave it to her. She needed a Bible that was not KJV so she could finally understand what she was reading. She needed notes and this Bible had my notes and its own study notes. She needed something and this was the best thing I could think to give her. So, I did.
We moved a few months later and I only saw her twice after that. She was always holed up in her apartment when I’d drive by our old place. I lost touch with her. And then we moved out of the state….and out of the country. And I have no idea what happened to her.
I wish I did. I wish I knew where she was and how she was doing. I wish I knew if my gift had been in vain or not. I hold to the truth that God’s Word will never return void, even in the hands of a raging alcoholic who couldn’t see straight enough to walk across a room. God’s Word can change lives. I wonder if it changed hers?
Every now and then I still think of that Bible. I miss it and wish I had held onto it. And then this morning, I realized that the Bible I have now is filled with my notes. Not Bible school notes. Not quotes from people I was taught by. It’s filled with notes that God has taught me personally. This is my own study Bible; all notes written by yours truly thanks to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, my pastor, and a few teachers. Maybe it’s not as filled yet, but it’s getting there. And it means more because it truly is mine.
I wish I knew what happened to her and my Bible.
So, my advice? Take good notes. You never know who’s going to need your Bible more than you do.