I was raised in a denomination that is currently being accused of worshiping the Bible. Understand, I don’t remember ever being told that the scriptures were co-equal in importance with the Godhead. What I do remember is a strong emphasis on daily Bible reading. In my mind, there was an equal emphasis with studying and meditating on passages of the Bible. I concluded this because I could tell the difference in the teaching of people who were serious about Bible study. As I approached adulthood, reading and studying the Bible became an important discipline in my life.
Therefore, for more than 40 years, I’ve read through the Bible at least once each year. Some years, I would read through the New Testament every month and the Old Testament each year. Yet, during the past four or five years, this daily exercise has been a terrible struggle for me. At first I wasn’t particularly disturbed, I’ve felt study and reading the scriptures was a part of training that needed to be done and it wasn’t necessary to enjoy it. Nevertheless, I did miss the joy I’d always had in discovering new and exciting nuggets hidden in some overlooked and obscure portions of the Bible.
I still understood the benefits of daily reading and study. However, it seemed that everything was a deterrent to me. In fact, there was almost a bitterness in my mouth each time I would open up the Scriptures. This greatly disturbed me and I prayed that the Lord would take it from me. However, it persisted for at least five years.
Even though a struggle, I consistently read through the Scriptures each year. Then a most wonderful thing happened last January. One evening, I thought, “I need to go to bed and read. This is the most important thing I’ve done all day.” Without the bitterness or tension, that I’d become accustomed to feeling, I got up, went to bed and read my Bible.
Every night since then, I’ve been able to read my Bible before I go to sleep. Yes, some nights I fall asleep reading but I continue until I’ve finished. Some evenings, I tell myself, “I’ll read and then I can get back up and finish my project.” Then I speak to myself, “This is the most important thing you will do today.”
Such a simple word has taken away the bitter taste and the hesitancy with which I’d struggled. For me, it’s a real miracle, giving me back one of the true joys of my life–reading God’s word and hearing Him speak to me with revelations and hidden treasures.
It is hard to recount how many simple words of truth have changed my life by inches. Most of the time, other people have spoken those simple words of truth to me. My mother, a Bible teacher, a loving friend, my children. My first memory of this happening was when I was seven years old, a substitute Sunday school teacher chose me first to give me the new Bible study quarterly. I was the middle child. I’d never been first in my life. It was a thrilling experience and a turning point in my young life. God used that lady to let me know that I was important to him. I’m going to find her in heaven some day and thank her.
In working with people who are developmentally disabled, we are usually working with folks who don’t expect much from God or society. You can give them simple words of hope, joy and release. Simple, loving words can change lives.
How many simple things do you do that help to change the lives of your co-worker? your friends? your family? How often are you the vehicle that reaches out and says to a person who never expects to be first, “You are important to God”?
Photos: Reading the Bible by Micah Boy and Young Woman Reading Bible by J. D. Gregory