By Kathy Johnston
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105
The Bible. It’s been a part of my life for as long as I can recall. Growing up, my dad would read from the big Bible Story book each morning as my family would gather around the breakfast table.
I was taught to memorize scripture at an early age in Sunday school and VBS. As I got older, I would attend Bible Memory camp and go to youth group where we learned the importance of reading our bibles daily. These were just a few examples of how the Bible was a part of the fabric of my life.
I learned at a very young age the difference between good and evil. By the time I was in my early teens, my dad had become pastor of a growing and thriving church. I had formed in my mind what it looked like to be a “good Christian girl.” I read my bible every day. I dressed modestly, went to church regularly and knew all the things I was supposed to do. At least I thought I did.
I married shortly out of high school, and by my mid to late 20’s I was mom to 3 boys. I was busy with being “the good Christian wife and mom”. My life was filled with dirty diapers, scraped knees, patching holey jeans, cooking meals, unending laundry and all the other unmentioned tasks of a mom of 3 little boys. Life was often chaotic and messy! I went to bed exhausted. I didn’t always find time to read or study God’s word. I began to feel like something was missing. I knew there had to be more than just going to church, reading my bible and doing all the “right” things.
It was then that my perspective regarding God’s word changed. I still recall that moment so vividly. I was in an adult Sunday school class at church. The teacher’s name was Glad Stutzman. He said, “Do you want to really know God personally; not just know about him, but really know him? Then he held up his Bible and said, “this is how you will know him, from cover to cover he will reveal himself to you through these pages.”
Why hadn’t I heard that before? Why didn’t I know this? Maybe I hadn’t been listening all those years before. But regardless, my soul was screaming YES! I wanted to know God like that! I wanted it to be more than just a list of things I was supposed to do.
That was a pivotal moment in my life. God’s word began to come alive to me in the pages of his word. Reading the Bible was no longer just a “to-do” thing on my list of tasks. I began to see God’s character revealed in the scriptures I was reading. I began to understand that God desired a personal relationship with me; that he knew me and had set his favor on me before I was even born. I began to see that the Bible was actually a book about God! It was his story from cover to cover, and he invited me to be a part of it. He had a reason and a purpose for me to fulfill…his purpose, not mine.
There have been many seasons in my life since that day. Some have been times of great victory and joy. Others have been very dark involving disobedience, rebellion, heartbreak and brokenness. But his word has always been there, quietly drawing me back to himself.
His word has comforted me, strengthened me, calmed me, convicted me, broken me, humbled me, healed me, guided me, emboldened me and filled me with praise.
There have been times when I’ve run to my quiet place, grabbed my bible, weeping and holding on to it because it felt like the one and only sure thing in my life. Of course, it wasn’t the physical leather, paper and ink I was holding onto, but the Person who had revealed himself to me in the pages.
My emotions rise up in me as I write this. How incredibly thankful I am for his word and his indwelling Holy Spirit. I cherish the moments I have to linger over the promises and truths about himself that he reveals in his word. Are there days when I don’t pick up my bible and read? Yes, of course. Life happens and I can be grabbing a cup of coffee and heading out the door before I even have time to think. But his word has become like water to my soul…and I long for it, because it causes me to draw near to him, the source of life.
I’m thankful for the seeds that were sown in me as a child to understand the importance of God’s word. But even more, I’m thankful God wasn’t willing to leave me in that place, but he drew me in, rescued me, breathed life into me and caused me to come close, growing in grace and knowledge.
“My child, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh”. Proverbs 4:20-22
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12