My child, do not forget my teaching,
but let your heart keep my commandments;
for length of days and years of life
and abundant welfare they will give you.
Do not let loyalty and faithfulness forsake you;
bind them round your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart.
So you will find favour and good repute
in the sight of God and of people.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own insight.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
It will be a healing for your flesh
and a refreshment for your body.
I have never thought I was very good at the Bible. It feels so weird to even write that because seeing it plain on paper like that shows how ridiculous a statement like that actually is. Yet, I don’t think I’m alone in feeling this way. Then, there are the other people out there who are GOOD at the Bible. Do you know what I mean? They have verses and passages memorized verbatim, complete with the book, chapter, and verse numbers. They read the Bible diligently every day, maybe even twice a day. Those people are good at the Bible.
I have always wanted to be good at the Bible, but as I’ve grown older, I have reached an acceptance that while I am not good at the Bible in that way, I am good at the Bible in a different way. While I may not be able to recite passages at the drop of a hat, I know the Bible with my heart. I am transformed by it. I rely on the wisdom, law and gospel – Good News – that I find there. As I accept the relationship I have with the written word of God, I begin to understand the Bible in a fuller way. It becomes more alive in and through me as it interacts within me and as it is translated within my community. The divide between those who are “good” or “bad” at the Bible is dissolved and we can meet in the Word to be guided, changed, and to live it out in the world together.
My heart keeps the Word alive in me so that while I may not always know the perfect verse for any situation, scripture still speaks to me when I need it most. As some of you may know, my congregation is in the midst of pastoral transition. Times of transition seem to go hand in hand with deep discernment. We are making choices about our future together as a congregation. We are opening ourselves to the leading of the Spirit in our personal and communal lives. It’s as scary as it is exciting. This week, as I sat with my discernment, a piece of the above passage emerged upon the surface of my thoughts. I had to search for a second to figure out what passage was coming to me, but when I found it in my Bible, the gift was immeasurable. It really was what I needed to know, remember, and rely on in that moment. Since then, I have been resting with the third chapter of Proverbs each day. I am reminded that whether I consider myself good or bad at the Bible, whether I have all the answers or know what tomorrow will bring, it is God who has set all of this in motion, and it is God who will bring it to completion. God is, has been, and will continue to be at work through it all and I get to be part of it. We get to be part of it.
Scripture is a gift to us. Do not let your ideas of what makes someone “good” at the Bible stop you from opening to the wisdom that awaits. It is what God does through scripture that matters most. What is emerging for you now? What Bible story from childhood is your heart holding for you to remember and revisit? What verse made the chorus to your favorite worship song that you can’t stop humming? Seek it out. Spend some time with it. God has something to say to you, for you, and for us.
Let us pray...
Speak to us today. Open our hearts and minds to hear you in the way we need. Thank you for the gift of scripture. You are already at work in so many ways. Help us to say, “Yes” so we might join you. Amen.
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Thank you for this, Casey. “My heart keeps the Word alive in me so that while I may not always know the perfect verse for any situation, scripture still speaks to me when I need it most.” I’ve often had a similar experience and this whole devotion speaks so well as to how the Word as we encounter it in the Bible leads us to the life God has for us.
Is it funny that we always think others are “better” at the Bible? I would have never guessed you thought this way, and I always wish I knew more! But I wonder if the more time we spend doesn’t always mean the better we are at it? When we let it transform us.. that’s when we’re good at it! Thanks, Casey!