No matter how iconoclastic one is, we all collect religious relics – for some it may be actual relics, and for others just paraphernalia from the journey. I have a few items that are special to me, among them my grandfather’s leather-bound Christian Worker’s Edition of the Authorized Version, which has his hand-written notes in the margin, and a prayer card of St. Theresa the Little Flower of Jesus from the funeral of a friend who died unexpectedly. I keep these, not for any spiritual purpose (though I have used the prayer on the prayer card before), but because they remind me of loved ones who I believe are now interceding for me and for the world among the saints.

But I have another personal relic, one I have only recently reacquired. It’s a ratty copy of a special-edition of the New Testament that was printed for a Promise Keeper’s rally in the late 90s. I didn’t attend the event, but my father brought the Bible back to me, and it mostly sat on a shelf until one night in my mid-teens.

At the time, I didn’t believe in much. I was still claiming the Christianity I was raised with in public and even to my close friends for fear that any word of apostasy would make way to my family, but privately I was drowning in pseudo-mysticism that was akin to a blend of self-made Buddhism and Deism. I knew there was suffering in the world, and I did not like it, but I did not believe God would fix it.

One night, on an impulse, I picked up that Promise Keepers Bible, and started reading. At first, I did not like what I was reading Jesus saying and doing, and I picked up a highlighter and began to highlight passages I found offensive. Somewhere in the middle of Matthew, however, things began to change. There were things about Jesus that disturbed me, but in a way that I had to keep reading. That night, I read through Matthew, Mark and Luke. As I went, the things I highlighted changed from things I didn’t like to things that convicted me, or at least left me wanting more.

I did not turn from my sin that night. It would take another year, a couple of tragedies – the death of friends of friends – in my periphery and a lot of prompting from the Holy Spirit for me to really wake up. But I look to that night as a turning point, the point when I started to want to know more about Jesus and when I was increasingly attracted to people who really seemed to know him. And then one night, alone in the chapel at Dry Creek, I wept and told Jesus that – if he would have me – I belonged to him.

Anyone who knew me at the time knows I went out-of-my-mind  religious after that. In the years since then, how that has manifested itself has changed dramatically, but it also remains the same.  In my heart, I am still a boy who wants to know Jesus as well as he can.

And that is why I am happy to have that ugly, abused copy of the Promise Keepers Bible.

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