I’m 38 years old, and life is starting to catch up with me. I’m certainly not old. In fact, the older I get, the younger numbers like 50, 60, or even 70 seem. But there are just certain little signs that are reminders that things have changed. Like the spare tire that seems to inflate around my mid-section over the past few months. Or the ache in my back when I get up in the morning.
Okay, let me confess something—I’m not a model for Men’s Fitness. No one has ever used the words “six-pack” to describe anything about me. I have very poor coordination and I have internal panic attacks when asked to play sports. And here’s a very ugly confession—I throw like a girl. Actually, I think a lot of girls out there can throw better than me. In fact, I know my wife can hurl a football farther. So exercise has never been a priority in my life.
But there is just this annoying reality that is starting to haunt me—I need to take care better care of myself. I need to eat better. I need to exercise more. Blah, blah, blah. Actually, I’m finding it more difficult to tune out those things I know I “should” do. They are becoming things I need to do. I’m realizing their importance because I’m seeing the effects of not doing them in my life. My experiences are showing me the truth of what all those gym addicts have known for a while.
But those aren’t the only things I know I “should” do. Christianity comes with a whole list of those, doesn’t it? Serve others, pray, give till it hurts, die to your self, read your Bible—just to name a few.
But the last one—read the Bible—is the one that seems to be a recurring theme in my life. I love the Bible. I really do. I have been very blessed to be around people who had a passion for God’s Word and it was contagious. But the main reason I love the Bible isn’t because other people like it, it’s because I realize how much I need it.
When I attended Lee College (now University), I hit a very low place my first year. I had made some bad choices and found myself in a lonely and broken place. One day, I was reading a random passage in the Bible, trying to find comfort. I ran across a verse that fit just where I was at.
In 2 Timothy 4:16, Paul wrote to Timothy: “At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me.” There was just something about those words that clicked that day. I realized that people in the Bible hurt just like I did, and that maybe there was something more personal in the Bible than just facts and information. So I looked in the concordance in the back of my Bible and found all the verses under the subjects “loneliness” and “broken”. Then I read each one. Not only that, I grabbed a notebook and started writing them down.
And as I wrote, the words seemed to come alive more than any other point in my life. The Bible was no longer a textbook to me. It became something more personal and intimate. It was the place where I not only saw myself, but I also saw God. It moved from something I knew I “should” do to something else. I needed those words not just for that moment, but for my life.
Now the reality is that I don’t always have that experience. There are times when the Holy Spirit has showed me chapters and verses that I needed to hear, and spoke to my soul in ways that satisfied a deep longing. And there are times when I’ve read a chapter, shrugged my shoulders and thought, “That was interesting.” There are even times when I read and said, “Huh? What in the world were you doing there, God?”
But it’s those times when I connect with God through His Word that keep me coming back—even if those times are days or weeks apart. It’s how I find peace. It’s how I get kicked in the butt when I’m out of line. It’s how I am reminded of who I am and who God is.
I don’t read my Bible because I should. I read it because I need to. My everyday experiences consistently show me that need. It’s an integral way I can connect with God and He connects with me. What about you? Have you found yourself in the pages of the Bible . . . ever? If not, ask God to meet you there today. Start reading. Begin with a psalm, or reread some Old Testament story you heard as a kid. Follow the adventures of the early church in Acts. Or read Paul’s letters in the New Testament. And if you’re struggling with something specific, like fear, trust or loneliness, find the verses that speak to those issues and write them down.
Hebrews 4:12 says that “the Word of God is living and active.” It came alive to me years ago, and many times afterwards. Open it up and let it become more than just another good read today or something you should do. Discover God and yourself in the pages.