God Is Also In the Margins
“…Then Eli realised that the Lord was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, ‘Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”’ So Samuel went and lay down in his place.”
1 Samuel 3:8-9 (NIV UK)
I read an interesting article last year about the history of book making. The piece included an image taken from a book printed in 1544. In the margin, I could see a tiny drawing of a hand pointing a pen toward a passage in the book. The article explained that this was a common practice among scholars of that period. They would draw these pictures in to single out passages they found particularly interesting—sort of like highlighting, only more creative.
The combination of the hand in the margin of a mechanically reproduced book is a striking one, and points toward a way in which we as Christians can interact with scripture.
Many of us own Bibles of our own, and odds are, if we’ve owned it for a long time, we’ve marked it up pretty well by now. It’s almost as if the Word calls out to us to interact with it on a more personal level. Christ Himself loved and trusted in the Scriptures, quoting them extensively. If we are to continue in the spirit of Christ, our attitudes should be the same as that of our Lord, looking for God to speak to us through his Word in Scripture.
The central story of the Bible highlights God’s participation in the lives of His creation, proclaiming His love for us, stretching out His arms despite our failings, and redeeming us from the wages of sin. When we read the Scriptures, we are being offered a glimpse into the mind and heart of God. Paul writes: “No eye has seen, nor ear has heard, and no mind has imagined the things that God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9 ISV).
As the bearer of this powerful message, by the Holy Spirit, Scripture calls out to us, inviting us into communion with our Triune Creator God, a communion forged by our Redeemer and Reconciler, Jesus Christ. So, I would encourage you to write in the margins of your Bible, just like that 16th century English scholar did. Note those special places where God speaks to your mind and heart giving you new life. I think you’ll find that God will indeed speak to you “in the margins.”
Holy Father, Over many years we learn to love your Word. And over time you reveal more to us through your Bible. But help us to learn, as Samuel learned over his lifetime, always to be ready to listen, insistent on listening, willing to obey. In Jesus’ name we pray.
Study by Joseph Tkach
About the Author:
Joseph Tkach is the President of Grace Communion International (the Denominational name of The Worldwide Church of God UK), and resides in California, USA. You are welcome to attend one of our local Church congregations located throughout the UK and Ireland. For details of your nearest local congregation, check on our website, www.wcg.org.uk under the ‘Churches’ tab, or ring +44 (0)1858 437099.