For the month of October, the women from Heritage will be sharing their individual stories of how and when they discovered the life-changing power of God’s Word.
By Randi Peck
But of course, Bible College would be the time and place when God’s Word became living and powerful in my daily life. Surrounded by pastors, teachers, missionaries, and thirty other students- all there to open up the pages of God’s Book. All there to grow in understanding it… In understanding him.
Only, it wasn’t in the classroom that my eyes were opened to the awe of his Word. And it wasn’t those late nights spent poring over my Romans homework or memorizing portions of Philippians that really made an imprint on my heart. Even my Inductive Bible Study class, as helpful as some tips and tools proved to be, would not be the catalyst for my newfound love. Rather, my hunger for God’s Word was born as I rose early in the morning, sat before the Pacific Ocean, and opened the pages of my soon-sandy Bible.
Sugar Beach, it was called. Its thin, crab-laden shore stretched miles down the coast of South Maui- and happened to be right across the street from our open-air sanctuary and school. Any local or tourist alike would argue that the other beaches were far superior to this one, but this spot still holds special meaning to me… Not for its sand consistency or its surf, but because many a morning, God met me on that beach.
I know, I know, I can hear you already, “Suffering for the Lord in Hawaii… Must’ve been so hard.” Perhaps you speculate that any person would find retreat and rest in the Lord on such a beautiful island. But Hawaii, as dreamy as it appears, makes its mark upon the map of earth. Broken, battered earth. Where no ocean is far enough, no sea deep enough to hide from the ripples of the fall. Consequently, the reason I drew near to the Lord and discovered the importance of his written word, was not due to the undisturbed and peaceful location… Rather, it was the turmoil of my heart and seasons of brokenness that led me to his feet.
My first weeks- even months- visiting the beach in the morning consisted of awkward, seemingly one-sided conversations with the Lord. I had flown to this college as a mess, my heart in shambles. My rebellious high school season had turned out to devastate me on many levels. Nevertheless, I knew I wanted to return to the God I’d loved since childhood. And I held hope that, if I kept seeking him, he would again reveal himself to me.
Sure enough, I found on that shoreline a beauty infinitely more magnificent than the island horizon. As God’s Word became a real and necessary part of my day, my hardened heart and numbed soul slowly thawed, each dawn, with the rising of the Maui sun.
It’s not as if I’d never opened the Bible before. Part of my daily routine since childhood was to read a passage of Scripture or a page in a devotional book, then to journal about it. So what was so different about this experience?
Previously, my time in the Word had consisted of applying everything to me, as I acquired knowledge on how to live like a Christian. I was often pleased with myself for my “devotion” to Bible-reading, but I rarely experienced power to actually change my desires and motives.
But when I arrived on Maui, I was thoroughly aware of just how unworthy of and how undevoted to Christ I was. As I opened up his Word early in the morning, it was no longer a matter of routine… I was desperate. Desperate for good news- not good ideas or good examples or good works to walk in. I had always needed Jesus, but for the first time, my eyes were opened to the fact that I really needed Jesus.
As I read about the cross, gratitude began to overflow from my soul. As I sorted through self-inflicted wounds, his Word pierced me… and healed me. As I fought to let go of selfish plans and dreams, those sixty-six books became a lamp unto my feet. As friendships and relationships took unexpected turns- turns that would ultimately break my heart- his truth gently but bracingly ministered to my tears.
His Word became powerful, not as a compilation of information or advice, but because Jesus is the Word. Those black and red letters jumped off the pages of my Bible to tell stories and paint pictures of a God who loved me. And as the gritty sand of Sugar Beach began to ingrain itself in my Bible’s binding, so to, my Savior’s words began to impress themselves into my mind. By opening that age-old “piece of literature” with the intent of discovering a Person, not a lesson, my heart- then my circumstances- were transformed.
As I clung to His Word on that Hawaiian coast, I was given a gift far more valuable than any education or experience… I was given Jesus.