When I was a child, the church folks told me the Bible was God’s love letter to mankind, which seemed a bit odd to me with its stories of strong men with gouged out eyes, decapitated giants, and mighty warriors felled by tiny women and tent pegs. Not to mention the incest and adultery that ran rampant through the Sunday school stories. A mighty odd love letter indeed!
There was a real disconnect for me. My belief was real, but how all those stories applied to me was baffling. Somehow, I came to view God as a celestial cop, ever watching with radar gun pointed, eager to catch me in the act of some transgression. There was certainly plenty of opportunity. With such an anemic faith, I spent a long season racking up enough sins to make the woman at the well look like a choir girl. For a kid steeped in the culture of Churchianity, the burden of my guilt weighed heavy, like a dead body strapped to my back.
Fast forward several years to a wise and patient Bible study leader who took the time to explain the history and context to my new husband and I each week, and suddenly the Bible began to make sense. Jesus wasn’t really telling me to pluck out my eye if I looked at something sinful, but saying that we can choose to live a holy life in Him. The Father wasn’t up there giving me the divine stink eye, waiting to bust me. Rather, He was watching, waiting for me to come home so He could run out to greet me. Wow. Humbling and relieving!
Then came Ted Dekker’s vision of God that shook my world. I’ve written about that here, and his messages of God’s love for us, of our identity in Him brought my walk to a whole new level. At my age, one can look back and see a great many bits along the way that our gracious Father leads us to and through in order to mature us and deepen our faith. All of those pieces fit together seamlessly to create the beautiful picture of our testimony, of our transformation as Christ-followers. It’s incredible to ponder.
So my Beautiful Truth #5 of 2019 is just another piece of the puzzle that is my journey and it occurred when I read Jen Wilkin’s, Women of the Word. It was quite by accident (?) that I got a free digital copy of the book, which sat unnoticed in my Kindle library for some months. And it was quite by accident (?) that I happened to stumble across it one morning just before I began teaching an eager group of teen girls how to study the Word. I began to read it and the simple truth it contained floored me.
The Bible is a book about God.
Silly, yes? Of course it’s about God. But I realized instantly what my disconnect has been all of these years. Of course we know it’s a book about God, yet we tend to read it as if it’s all about us. Jen Wilkins says:
We are like Moses. The Bible is our burning bush—a faithful declaration of the presence and holiness of God. We ask it to tell us about ourselves, and all the while it is telling us about “I AM.” We think that if it would just tell us who we are and what we should do, then our insecurities, fears, and doubts would vanish. But our insecurities, fears, and doubts can never be banished by the knowledge of who we are. They can only be banished by the knowledge of “I AM.”
Rarely am I hit with a truth so profound it makes me feel sucker-punched. I felt like I’d just uncovered the world’s most priceless truth, and at the same time like an idiot for not seeing it before. She went on:
The Bible does tell us who we are and what we should do, but it does so through the lens of who God is. The knowledge of God and the knowledge of self always go hand in hand. In fact, there can be no true knowledge of self apart from the knowledge of God. He is the only reference point that is reliable.
This has completely changed the way I approach scripture. Somehow, without realizing it, I was going to the Bible either to simply gain knowledge, to find verses that pertain to my situation, to find out what God thinks of me, or if I’m honest, just so I could check ‘Bible reading’ off the list. It’s rather embarrassing to admit this.
Focusing on Him rather than on myself is incredibly freeing. Truth be told, I’m a rather tiresome creature, prone to wander and fall into the same old potholes of life. And when my eyes are on me, when I approach scripture as some sort of self-help book, I am shouldering a burden that isn’t mine to bear. The transformation of a renewed mind only happens as we see Him with increasing clarity. It has nothing to do with self efforts to be a ‘better’ Christian. Whew!
So that’s it, my friends. The Bible is a book about God. He is revealed on each and every page and in each and every story. My final Beautiful Truth is as simple and as profound as that.
(Though I’ll admit that some stories still have me scratching my head, wondering ‘what the heck?’ That’s where bible dictionaries and commentaries written by really smart folks come in handy!)
Grace and peace,
Photo by Jeff Jacobs, courtesy of Pixabay.