SGC Women: Loving THE Word

Growing up in a Christian home, the Bible has always been an important book in my life. I was in 6th grade when I first felt personal conviction that I should read it on a daily basis. I was also in 6th grade when a struggle began in my heart. The struggle to read my Bible became a legalistic issue almost as soon as it became a conviction. Reading and studying God’s word became something that I knew I should do and when I didn’t I stood ready to be condemned. And yet, in the midst of what would be a 27-year struggle God used his word in my life in powerful ways. I had many seasons of growing from what I learned in God’s word and many times that it spoke to me directly.

For example, as newlyweds, Steve and I were faced with a very disappointing housing situation in which promises made to us by our Bible School authorities were broken. We struggled to trust that the situation God had us in was right and we even considered quitting. Then God brought to me the verse that says, “some trust in horses and some trust in chariots, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” I knew the Holy Spirit was speaking through God’s word to ask me who or what I was putting my trust in. Was it the housing I desired or Him? He used that simple verse to challenge us to stay and trust Him for the results.

Another time, long before I’d had much teaching on the sovereignty of God or sanctification, I read Romans 8:28-29 in context and the Holy Spirit showed me clearly that the good he brings about in a believer’s life is being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, not something neatly packaged that looked good in my eyes. That had a dramatic impact on my view of God’s will for me.

These are just a couple examples of many to say that despite my legalistic attitudes about God’s word it powerfully influenced me anyway. I had times of desire to be in it but I can’t say that I loved it the way I do now. Though I knew it shouldn’t be it remained a duty more than a true ongoing desire.

Throughout all these years I was part of and led many different Bible studies in different contexts using different methods. God also used these in my life but still deep down they did not do anything really to change my heart’s attitude and love for God’s word. Then something dramatic happened to me, which I consider to be one of the greatest changes in my life since conversion.

When I say it was dramatic I don’t really mean that in the sense of a dramatic event but a dramatic change in my heart that came upon me. A night and day difference that occurred in me that caused me to wholeheartedly say that I loved God’s word. The kind of change that meant I had a sincere desire for God’s word and saw it for the treasure that it was rather than a duty to be performed.

How did this happen for me? There were a few circumstances that led up to it. First, we moved to Minneapolis to become part of Sovereign Grace Fellowship. It was there where the gospel-centered teaching saturated my soul in ways it never had before. My eyes were opened to what it means to trust in the righteousness of Christ alone. Second, Steve gave me a birthday gift; a simple journaling bible with space in the margins to write my thoughts and impressions while reading God’s word. Third, I attended a seminar that was being taught at our church called Feasting on The Word. He made a statement that would forever change my time in God’s word. He told us to always look for the gospel in every passage of the Bible because the whole Bible is a revelation of Jesus Christ – a story of redemption. It was simple enough, but truly life changing.

I decided to take a slower than usual tour through God’s Word, about a chapter a day, journaling as I went. Then I came to one of those tough passages in Hebrews that had previously stumped me and caused me to doubt. This time when I read it God revealed Jesus Christ to me as someone to hold fast to. He showed me that everything hung on faith, not on doing. These are my notes at the end of the book:

“Hebrews has been an interesting book to glean from. I have no idea what Bible scholars have to say about the theme but to me I think the theme is Jesus – cling to him – look to him- be inspired by him – be equipped by him – have faith in him and through him – be encouraged by him – be comforted by him – understood by him – cleansed by him – hope in him – do any work because of and through him – put away sin because of him. I’m not sure if this book says this but it makes my heart want to chime in and say LOVE HIM – precious Jesus you are worthy – Thank You!”

I failed to really love God’s word before because I failed to truly see the connection between the written word and the Living Word. Viewing the entire Bible as a revelation of Jesus, always pointing me to the gospel, has been changing me.

You might say, "Sure, this works in the New Testament but what about the Old?" I asked the same question. The answer? Yes! Morning after morning God speaks to me of Jesus through his word even when Jesus is not specifically mentioned. Even when all I read about is law or wrath it reminds me of Jesus who took the wrath that I deserved and fulfilled the law that I could never keep. More and more in the margin of my Bible I am thanking God for Jesus, which spills out to telling him how much I love him.

I have found that this concept is not anything new. I have another faithful companion to help me understand or get a fresh perspective on chapters that are puzzling or too familiar to me, Matthew Henry’s commentary (iOSAndroid, Online, or book). It was written over 300 years ago and Matthew Henry almost never fails to mention Jesus.

At times I still have dry spells in devotions. Many times, especially as our children were younger,  I found it difficult getting in enough time in the morning. There are still those days when life sucks me in as soon as I step out of bed and I can’t be in solitude with the Lord and in his word the way I would like. The big difference is that I’ve tasted and seen that the Lord is good through his word and I long for more. I don’t feel condemned when I miss time with him, I feel disappointed, and for me that is a HUGE change that I praise God for.

How very grateful I am that God patiently, through all those years, worked in me to love his word, which ultimately meant to love him more. God’s word shows me who he is and is continually reminding me that Jesus came to bring me to him. I’m so excited to keep going in this adventure in His word with him and know that all of it is his doing. What a priceless treasure we have in the Word of God. A lifetime will not be enough to mine its revelations of the pearl of greatest price – Jesus!