I was a bit shocked to read in Ecclesiastes that Solomon said that there will always be books and reading too much will confuse you. God understands that we will never learn everything about any subject. When I was a young woman, I learned the importance of studying and reading the Bible. I thought that information about God would transform my life.
I did my daily Bible reading. I read and studied books that my church recommended. But my worries and concerns didn’t seem to be changing. Then I found a book. Go Home and Tell was written by Bertha Smith, a missionary in China. Something happened as I read her book. I began to see things beyond the pages. I could see myself and my short comings. I also saw who I could become through the power of the Holy Spirit. While I didn’t understand it at the time, I received my first revelation from the Lord.
There is a powerful difference between information and revelation. From that day, I was able to see beyond the information found of the pages of the Bible. Sure, I wanted to understand what the author was saying to the people to whom it was written; but like a mirror held before me, I could see things in my life that needed changing. I began to see some of what God was seeing when he looked at me, his child. I saw future possibilities and godly results that were available for me.
Each time I teach or share with the members of Special Gathering, a ministry within the mentally challenged community, I desire to help them to receive more than information about God. The revelation of God’s word is a powerful thing. I pray that God’s supernatural power will reach out and help each person to see and hear the needs and desires of their own hearts. I pray that they will understand their potential and how God can use them.
One of our teachers is uniquely gifted in helping our members discover God’s purpose in their lives. Several of our members are seeing how much Jesus sacrificed for them. They are discovering supernatural revelations from the Scriptures. These revelations extend beyond the black and white words on the page. “Each week,” the teacher reports, “we see new growth. Last week, after Brian talked about his health problems, Denise said, ‘Let’s pray for him right now.’ They gathered around him and prayed. I didn’t need to say a word.” One of the higher functioning members has become her co-teacher. Betty has always been jealous of another member but that jealousy has turned into love as they pray together and learn God’s word sitting at the same table, sharing a Bible.
Can people who are developmentally disabled understand complicated theology? No. Can they understand God? Oh, yes. In fact, armed with revelations of God, they can understand better than the rest of us.
What are some of the things God has shown you from the Bible? Do you see these things while reading or while talking about the passage?
Need a new outlook?
Perhaps a new hat will help. In this case, one size does not fit all.
Photos: China by Herman Verbeek and Bible Class by Prayingmother
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
Are you like me? My email inbox, Facebook Wall and even today’s Twitter Timeline are full of messages telling me about “The Perfect Gift for Mom.” Frankly, I hope my children read and use a couple of these suggestions.
Even BeliefNet is promoting mother-friendly suggestions. There is an aromatherapy kit which appears to be formulated specifically for mothers. Not sure what that means, unless these oils and herbs have the smell of Johnson’s baby talcum, topped with Vick’s Vapor Rub. There is the ever-present, always-needed skin care kit to use after washing all those breakfast dishes and toilet bowls–hopefully not together. My personal favorites are Republic of Tea’s yummy Pink Grapefruit Green Tea and Sweet Earth Chocolate. Hopefully consumed together.
There’s the iPad2 and smart phones galore. Even earth-friendly floral bouquets delivered to her door. You can send electronic cards and hard-backed books formatted, printed and sent specifically for Mother. While the Mother’s Day fever is coming to a head as quickly as a teenager’s zit, most mothers are looking forward to gifts that really matter–golden slobbery kisses and silver hugs that last longer than a nano-second.
Of course, almost every mother wants and appreciates gifts. I’ve received two books designed and made for me with photos of my children and grandchildren. I cherish them.
My children and grandchildren are scattered all over the US, from Alaska to Hawaii to Virginia. They are not able to be with us on Mother’s Day. This year, one of my gifts was hand delivered; and it arrived early. As I sit at my computer, I’m enjoying a stem of 9 cymbidium orchids. The best part is that they are attached to the orchid plant. I can continue to enjoy the elegant, grassy-leaf foliage long after the blossoms are gone.
In reality, the thing a mother will recall at the end of the year, won’t be the gift you give her (unless it’s chocolate or a very expensive gold necklace). It will be the tender words you share as the two of you linger at her front door at the end of the day. It will be when you reach over and touch her hand for no reason at Sunday lunch. She’ll cherish that knowing wink and delight in one-too-many “Thank you’s.”
After being a mother for a few decades, my expectation of Mother’s Day has changed. I want an early morning call from one of our children and another one in the afternoon after church. A greeting on FaceBook or a text message is a delight from our almost-adult grandchild.
Additionally, because I’m the area director of The Special Gathering, a ministry within the intellectually disabled community, the Lord has blessed me with some wonderful friends who have special needs. Some of them will come to church with computer-generated Birthday cards for me. Because they don’t read, they think it’s a Mother’s Day greeting. Others will have small tokens or gifts that they purchased from the dollar store or local CVS Drugstore. Together we will smile appreciating their gifts.
Their enthusiasm will escape into my heart and smear love all over my day. It will be a good day. After all, love is the reason for Mother’s Day, especially if your children are living godly, productive lives and they’ve scattered themselves all over the world.
Photo: Young Mother with Child by epSos.de