After the horrific events of September 11, 2001, I turned to my Bible for reassurance. I decided to read the book of Revelation. Crazy, I know, but I wanted to see if the buzz was true... was the world really coming to an end? It certainly felt like it to me and most everyone else of the Christian faith. I couldn't imagine our world getting any worse, and I had a newborn at home that I had chosen to being into this messed up world. So I read Revelation and discerned for myself that it didn't really matter if the world was ending, when the end would be, but rather what mattered to me was that I had no idea where I'd end up when the trumpet sounded. I felt no security in my soul, no faith, no clue as to who Jesus really was or what I meant to Him or our Father. Though I had grown up unlocking the doors of the building every Sunday morning and evening and Wednesday night, I was clueless. After reading Revelation, I decided to start at Matthew and read through the New Testament and see what it said for myself. I was amazed.
Though still confused about the Trinity and how I fit into the equation and about my salvation, I forged on, reading through the New Testament in just a few months, highlighting and underlining things that stood out to me. I remember, even in the freshness of my pursuit of the Truth, feeling that God was speaking to me ~ directly to me ~ as I turned the pages of my Bible. Was that possible? That God cared enough for me to infuse Himself in the words and thoughts of mere humans and have it carry through generations so that one day I would be able to sit on my couch and feel His presence by reading a book? Absolutely.
My Bible took a different meaning that year, and thankfully so. 2001 proved to be the most difficult one I had experienced in my life thus far. The year my son was born, the adjustment on my marriage that having a little one entailed, financial insecurity in the shadows of the World Trade Center tragedy. That's where the process began for me, the development of a relationship with Jesus and our Father, on the couch during nap time, reading as much as I could at a time. Sometimes it was only a chapter or two. Other times an entire book. Though I read and felt convicted of certain things, I still struggled inwardly with my salvation, still feeling I had to get it all right before He would save me.
You see, just recently I have accepted that it doesn't happen in the blink of an eye ~ the change of heart, the full completion of faith and strength in Him. I used to think it was that simple. One day I would wake up and be completely changed... a pretty little Christian lady that never cursed or drank or had an ugly thought. But as I read the Scriptures, I saw very little prettiness, perfection, or all-together-ness. I saw Jesus healing the sick, performing miracles for sinners, talking to people the Jews had shunned. I saw Jesus meeting the imperfect in the midst of their imperfection. I saw Him loving and teaching. And over the years of reading, I have learned that God loves and demonstrates mercy where ever you find yourself, offering forgiveness to all who are seeking Him. The only pretty Christians I see are the ones who pretend to be pretty on Sunday mornings, and I have discovered that behind a perfectly matte face with no blemishes, matching high heels and lovely dress, tends to be a whole lot of brokenness and insecurity. When we're honest with ourselves, we find that all of us are sinners, spotted and scarred, but through Jesus we are made pure.
I feel like I am rambling a bit here, but I am saying all of this to offer this solid point: The absolute only way to have a relationship with anyone is through communication. Communication is a two way deal ~ I talk, you listen; you talk, I listen. So it is by prayer that I speak to my Creator, and through His written word, He speaks to me. Like some of my other relationships in life, I probably talk too much. There are times in my life where I am more fervent in listening to God's Word, but I admit that it falls to the wayside during busy, stressful, or challenging times. But I make an honest effort to stop and take a minute in His Word several times a week, even if it's just reading over a chapter or passage that I particularly cherish.
I challenge any who are reading this... are you listening to Him? Are you reading what He has left for you through the centuries? Are you meeting Him, learning about Him, paying attention to His teachings and miracles and love for all man, and developing a real relationship with Him through His Word? The glory of the Bible is that it's always there, never changes, is full of Truth and Wisdom, and readily available. I am not perfect, may not always make the right decisions in life, make bookoodles of mistakes and do my fair share of sinning, but I am totally in love with the Scriptures and want everyone to feel the same thing I feel when I sit down to read them.
So, there's my sermon for the week... can I get an AMEN?
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