April 25, 2006, was the biggest day of my life. It’s the day I fell in love with the Bible.
I sat on my bed with my NIV and a turquoise composition book, I opened up Matthew, and I read it for hours. I’ve looked back on my notes from that day, and they’re by no means insightful or even correct, but that was the day I discovered that I could truly know and enjoy God. The Bible is how God speaks to His people, and hearing from my Creator and Sustainer and Redeemer and Beloved began to fill me with more joy than literally anything else ever could.
I’m truly one of the most undisciplined, flighty, inconsistent people I know. But I love the Word and I am daily dependent on the Word because it’s so wonderful.
In these past ten years I’ve gone from being an awkward 8th grader to a [still awkward] wife and mom of three kids. It’s almost certainly been the biggest adjustment period I’ll ever experience in my life, and God is so gracious to have given me the Word as I limped out of adolescence, survived puberty, and as I figure out how to be an adult. Here are some defining moments from the past ten years that have been shaped by the Word.
-In middle school when I felt so unpretty, I was comforted deeply by a description of Jesus in Isaiah 53:2, “he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.” Obviously there are much richer things to glean from this passage, but at that moment I was comforted that Jesus didn’t have an outstanding appearance either. My beauty (or perceived lack thereof) wasn't the most important thing about me. And that is very good news to an 8th grader.
-On Valentine’s Day in ninth grade when I really wished I had a boyfriend, a friend reminded me that I am the bride of Christ. “As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you” (Isaiah 62:5) and “for your Maker is your husband, the LORD of hosts is his name” (Isaiah 54:5), as well as other glorious passages such as Revelation 19, richly reminded me that I was, in fact, not single, but loved and pursued by the Creator of the universe. That filled me with joy on that Valentine’s Day and has been a rich truth to me even since I’ve been married.
-I remember sitting at my desk in eleventh grade reading Ephesians 1, and when I got to verse ten, I sat back, breathless and in awe, because I had just discovered the purpose of the whole universe. The world’s smartest philosophers and mathematicians have to yet to come up with any kind of answer to that one, and here I was, nearly failing chemistry, but I knew why everything exists and where it’s heading! The Lord lets His people in on His mysteries of the universe! I had never felt so alive.
-The desire to become wealthy completely lost its appeal to me when I was in high school and read Isaiah 55:2: (“Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.”) I discovered that only Jesus can truly delight my soul, and the pursuit of stuff is going to leave me unsatisfied. This was helpful to have hidden in my heart during the years Peter and I didn't have very much money! Our pockets were empty but our joy was full!
-In college I remember weeping because I felt like such a failure at life and was almost certain God didn’t love me or hear me anymore, but Romans 8 (especially verse 1, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”) left no room for doubting that there was no condemnation left for me because Jesus took every drop of it on the cross. No guilt in life, no fear in death! Since then I have been able to fight back hard (usually with this exact scripture) when I started to despair at my failure.
-This is kind of silly, but I remember sitting in a field that was near a marsh and I felt quite afraid of the alligators that probably lived there. But as I read Job 38 and 39 and was captivated by God’s sovereignty over creation, I realized that the only way an alligator (or snake, or gunman or terrorist, for that matter) could touch me was if God decided for it to be so. If God wanted to use me as the means of His provision for the gator’s food, then He would do it.
Then a beautiful swarm of dragonflies buzzed around me in the most idyllic way, and I realized this was of the sovereign orchestration of the Lord as well. I now have a really good answer when my son asks me if bad guys or bears are ever going to attack us. And now I really like dragonflies.
-When I was pregnant with Piper, my midwife called me quite concerned about some ultrasound results, and when I Googled what those results typically mean, in no time at all I saw words like “fetal demise” and “stillbirth” and other serious potential health problems. But I instantly had peace because shortly before that phone call I had been thinking about Romans 8:32, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”
I was (and am!) convinced that God spared no expense for my good. He even gave His Son for me! So He wasn't going to start holding back on me now. Of course I prayed for a healthy baby (and, praise the Lord, I got one! The ultrasound was completely wrong!) but I was comforted to the core that even if she wasn’t healthy---even if my arms were empty at the end of the day---it wouldn’t be an oversight on God’s part, but it would be from the hand that gave His own Son for me and clearly loves me deeply.
-Early last year I went through a very dark season of struggling with depression and sometimes suicidal thoughts. I had some terrifying panic attacks, and in those moments it wasn’t enough to “count my blessings” and think of how great it is that I’m healthy and have a beautiful family and good financial situation. The only thing able to bring me out of those attacks (and eventually out of that dark season as a whole) was the rock-solid truth that God is sovereign, and He is good, and He loves me. I kept reminding myself of Isaiah 26:3, which says “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you,” and now I know from experience that peace in the storm is possible. The Word has literally saved my life.
There have been all kinds of little moments, too, like when my kids ask me a question and a scripture comes to mind from something I read seven years ago.
Or when I'm talking to someone who is going through something really hard and a verse from, like, Deuteronomy, that I happened to read that morning speaks perfectly to the situation.
Or when I’m feeling down or doubtful but scriptures I’ve read in the past that I can’t even recall have deeply built in me a trust in God that still remains. The Word is living and active!
Some of my struggles over the past ten years have never come back, but for many of them it’s not like scripture was a one-time fix and I’ve been liberated from fear or dissatisfaction or gloom forever. I’m still so weak and forgetful and I still struggle so much. It’s a bummer to think about how much I’ll struggle in the future too. But the Word is so strong and I can trust the Lord to sustain me no matter what comes.
I can’t encourage you enough to read and treasure the Bible. Not just devotional books, not just theological podcasts, not just the sermon your pastor preaches on Sunday. I implore you to---for the sake of your own soul---choose a book of the Bible and study it, asking the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to the scriptures so you can gaze upon the beauty of the Lord through the words through which He has chosen to reveal Himself.
We will never find anything that trumps the Bible. So let’s read and memorize the Bible. In high school I remember realizing that I never, ever have to experience boredom again because there’s always scripture to read and memorize. And though of course I am a huge time-waster and I wish I would’ve spent my days then and now much more wisely than I do, I am grateful for every single time God gave me the grace to open my Bible.
God wrote a book and we get to know His thoughts! They are precious! Treasure them today!
Please read these related articles that I wrote:
The Real Reason We Don't Read Our Bibles
One Thing I'd Remember if I Lost My Mind
Christians: Let's Study the Bible for Ourselves!
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My name is Hope.
I'm 25, married to a former skater dude, and raising little people ages 5, 3, 1, and not-yet-born. I like lime green and sarsaparilla, and I wear my Crocs until they melt. (Florida problems.)
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Youth Ministry's Family Blindspot - Christianity Today