Friday, January 30, 2009

Using bible verses

We have had several people lately who have asked us if we could point them to some Bible verses to help them get through their particular situations. It's like, they're in a bad spot, and they think that maybe if they just knew the right verse it would make everything better.

My first impulse (which I didn't say to them) is... "eh, I don't know that that's what the Bible is for." It's not like "I just need to read this, or memorize this, and then God will make it all go away." I think the Bible is much more 'relational.' It is a way for us to get to know God, a way for us to learn, and be transformed, and connect with Him. But it doesn't "just happen." You can't just read it and expect things to be different. It needs to "come alive" inside of us. And in many cases there needs to be a foundational re-orienting of life.

But... I say all that, and I was reminded of something I used to do with my kids. I don't think I did it every year, but I know I did when they changed schools. On the first day of school I gave them each a business card with a verse printed on it. It was something they could stick in their pocket, and if they started to get scared, or overwhelmed, they could read it over and over - and maybe even memorize it - and it would hopefully help comfort and encourage them. I know that's what I used to do. I used to always carry a verse or two with me (until I memorized them), just for those occasions. I can't remember how many panic attacks this helped me through.

I was reminded of this because as I was vacuuming this morning I noticed one such card still hanging on the wall in Isaac's old room. It is Deuteronomy 31:8 (NLT):
Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD is the one who goes before you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor forsake you."

I was thinking... you know, maybe I underestimate Scripture. I mean, just like communion... as a Protestant, I don't necessarily believe the bread and wine REALLY turns into the body and blood of Jesus (at least I don't think so). But I can't deny that something powerful happens. I do believe there is a boatload of grace that transpires through participation in eating and drinking and remembering. Grace that not only forgives, but also empowers. And it never occurred to me that maybe the same thing happens when we read the Word of God. Maybe the reading in and of itself DOES change us; transform us; empower us. Certainly our attitude needs to be considered - just like with communion, or baptism, or anything of the sort. But... Hmm. You never know.

Well, I'm more-or-less just writing down some thoughts. But that's what I was thinking about, and that's another good verse to maybe burn into your mind... if you're ever in an anxious sort of way.

My heart is heavy for several people today. But hopeful. God is good.