Yesterday I had a wonderful afternoon, one spent with my daughter, an old friend, and a new friend. I’m so glad to have this new friend. I have several friends that I consider meeting in a God-ordained way. My new friend is one of those. But. . . let me begin at the beginning.
Approximately thirty-four to thirty-five years ago, my husband bought me a beautiful leather bound Thompson-Chain NIV Reference Bible. Ok. . . all those words together may not mean much to you, but it was exactly the Bible I had been wanting. One Sunday morning, we were putting kids and stuff in the car as we left church. Hubby had sat some items on a near-by sidewalk. As we drove off I asked where my Bible was. “Oh no,” he said. “I think I left it on top of that bag of stuff and forgot to put it in the car.”
We drove back. The bag, the Bible and the stuff were gone. I cried. I cried enough that even though we could not afford to buy another Bible this nice so soon, hubby sacrificed something he wanted and purchased me a new one. A year went by. I received a phone call from a woman who said her son had found the Bible that very day we lost it on the sidewalk. It had sat in her home unopened for an entire year. As stress and life piled on her, she finally decided to open the Bible. She began reading with passages I had marked and notes I had written in the Bible. She read more and eventually believed the words she read and put her hope and faith in Jesus.
My name was on the front of the Bible. She tracked me down as she knew which church sidewalk the son had found the Bible on. She called and we met. She wanted to return the Bible, but I insisted I already had a new one and that she keep the Bible. Eventually I lost contact with this woman.
Anastasia and the shared Bible
Move forward to 2013. It’s not only the day of the internet, but social media. Everyone is reconnecting with people from their past and making new on-line friends. To help old friends find me more easily I include my maiden name on social media and go by – Judy Guillot Vandiver. I’ve enjoyed several social media groups and one in particular is a closed group only for those who were in my high school graduating class. We have had a wonderful time getting to know each other again and for some of us – for the first time. One of my high school friends, Deborah Sawyer Dion, noticed that I often find God’s lessons and devotionals in everyday things of life. Deborah said it reminded her of how her sister, Anastasia wrote – always finding God in the world around her. Deborah introduced me to Anastasia via social networking and we began to correspond. Deborah was right. Her sister and I had a kindred spirit. I loved the way Anastasia expressed herself spiritually as she wrote a note about something in her day. Also, we both collected various Bibles and Bible versions. Old Bibles, new Bibles, interesting Bibles. We both simply treasured God’s Word.
Anastasia and I had been online friends for a few weeks when she realized something about my name kept tickling her mind. She felt she knew the name, but could not remember from where. She said God woke her one night and lead her to read from the Bible. Not just any Bible, but a certain one she had found at a used book store some twenty-plus years previous. She said that particular Bible was one she treasured for the notes that had been written in it. As she picked the Bible up, the name in gold letters on the front jumped out at her. Judy Vandiver. She said she wondered if this could be the Judy Guillot Vandiver she had been talking with online.
She sent me a picture of her and the Bible. And yes, it is the Bible I lost all those years ago. I told her I was glad it had found it’s way to her. I find it nothing less than God’s ordained hand to have the two of us meet online and know we loved the same Lord and had shared the same Bible.
This past week I had to make an emergency trip from WV to Houston, TX. I posted online that I was in town if any old friends wanted to visit or meet up somewhere. Deborah contacted me. Could she and Anastasia meet with me? I was tired from the trip and almost declined. But when my daughter heard the story of the Bible, she told me I had to go, that God had arranged this opportunity and it was obvious His hand was on those involved. I contacted Deborah and we arranged to meet. And what a fantastic time we had. Four women talking for several hours – nonstop. I had such a wonderful time as we talked about God, the Bible that had brought us together, anointing cloths, loves, hurts, and fellowship.
Pressed flowers tucked away in God’s Word.
I had a chance to examine the Bible. The notes in it are my handwriting. There is no doubt that it is my old lost Bible. In the back are notes I put also from several pastors, evangelists, and speakers. I was able to revisit the messages and scripture that had impressed my heart years ago. I reached back across the table to return the Bible to Anastasia. She shook her head. She wanted me to have the Bible again. Through tear filled eyes, I thanked her. She said anything left inside went with the Bible. I now have notes from Anastasia, a beautiful anointing cloth, and the most wonderful pressed flowers to remind me of how God fills all of nature.
My husband and I bought that Bible years ago when the cost of it was a luxury to our budget. And though I refer to it as the Lost Bible, it was never lost. It was in my possession as a young woman, God giving me thoughts to treasure. Then God directed it to a woman who needed to learn to trust in the Lord. Somehow, God moved it to an old resale shop where He presented it to Anastasia. She has used this Bible for years to write lessons for Christian classes she has taught. She has shared some of the thoughts I had written in the Bible, and to them, she added words God gave her.
I’m now at a time in my life where words of my youth are like precious gems. And through time, Deborah, Anastasia and the urging of my daughter to follow through, God has given me this very precious gift – the Bible of my early years, the revelations He showed me, the memories of past preachers, notes of spiritual wisdom given by God, and a new friend.
Picture below of Deborah, Judy, and Anastasia with “The Bible.”
Please leave comments below or tell about a God-ordained moment or meeting you have had.
Deborah – Judy – Anastasia