Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. (Psalm 119:105 NIV)
A couple of weeks ago, Keith spoke on really diving into the Word and making a conscious effort to be still and read for at least 15 minutes. I was sitting there nodding my head, thinking, “Check! Done!” After all, for the past three falls, I participated in an in-depth study of a section of the Bible complete with homework, discussion, and lectures. This is year is no different. But what struck me about Keith’s sermon was the part about the Bible being the only book that calls its readers into relationship with the author. To read a section over and over again, so that I know the author forward and back. It’s been a long while since I’ve read like that, if I ever have.
I think I internalize verses here and there, mostly ones about courage and strength, as I feel so inadequate at times. But that only paints part of the picture of who God is. God’s also in the context surrounding those verses. For example, Psalm 119:105 sits in the middle of one loooong poem, where every stanza begins with successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet, and the verses of each stanza begins with the same letter. That verse starts a new stanza that ends with, “Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart. My heart is set on keeping your decrees to the very end” (v. 111-112). The stanzas surrounding it talk of how God’s law affects the writer’s relationships and understanding (v.97-104), and how God is “my refuge and shield” that sustains (v.113-120).
The New Testament is no different. We’re studying Acts now, and I feel a stirring in my heart for the young, missional church who were led by the Apostles, who meditated on the Word and knew God. I think upon this one often—every day actually: “…For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God” (Acts 5:38-39 NIV). The funny thing is, until I reread the section, I forgot that it was spoken by a Pharisee named Gamaliel, who counseled the Sanhedrin not to go after Peter and the other Apostles for fear of growing their numbers. The context makes it all the more powerful to me, because someone who may not have believed in Jesus spoke true words about the God I serve. God’s will cannot be stopped.
When I was in YWAM, we had a motto: “To know God and to make Him known.” That season was probably the last time I really immersed myself into reading in such a way that I felt I was learning deeply about God. I had to, because the second half of that is “…to make Him known.”
Which brings me to the little tug on my heart during Carl’s sermon about a month ago: our call to spread The Good News. The Bible is written to be relational so that we may know a God who wants us to know Him, and so that we may be so well-versed in Him, filled with the boldness and grace that comes from knowing Him, that we can share this Good News. It’s not reading just for ourselves, but so that we share it with others who may not know Him like we do. In short, His Word is a lamp for our feet and a light for a path that leads us—and others—to Jesus.