Until about 7 o’clock this evening I felt like the walking dead. Doing some night shifts at the hospital is taking its toll on me. But I’m always surprised at how much I notice God’s presence and help when I feel especially weak. Today was no exception.
My 13-year-old is new in his personal walk of faith following Jesus and as his mom it’s priority for me to intentionally disciple him in the love and teaching of Christ. I look to the Bible, prayer and the promise of the Holy Spirit’s help for this.
It’s a funny thing when you think about it, we look to a book to learn about this God we have been captivated by. Christ has captured our hearts and given us a desire to love him and others like we never had before. But we can’t see him. We have a book- actually a collection of books in the Bible, and we have the church. Yes, we have nature and other relationships through which we learn more about this God we love and have never seen, but the meat and potatoes of our spiritual growth diet is the Bible and the church. When I look back over my years following Jesus, it’s chewing on the messages of the Bible, alone and in community, that has sent tap roots of faith down into the soil of my tumultuous life. I want my sons to have that same deeply-rooted faith.
The Bible can be misused. And sadly is. In the Bible Satan uses the scriptures to tempt and lie to Christ himself. Reading or knowing the Bible is not a sign of humble faith or a regenerated heart. But without taking in the scriptures, chewing on them and spitting them out in prayer and community, with questions and responses, we will be weak Christians easily tossed by the storms and droughts of life.
I’ve been asking my youngest to form habits of reading scripture, asking questions, praying and discussing it with me. Today, we read the daily reading from our church’s app. It was from Isaiah 53. After we listened to the reading of the passage, we began a discussion. Actually, I started preaching. And my son obliged and listened. I was surpised to find that in my crawling skin, bowling-ball head, tired, burning eyes and foggy brain Christ was bubbling up “rivers of living water.”
My son doesn’t like to read. He’s part of this generation that gets most of its information from technology like his smart phone and social media. It a social norm I feel very wary of. And without selling all our possessions and moving to Pennsylvania to become Amish, I try to push back against the strong current of information passively wearing my sons down to flatness. I urge them to grow deep roots and strong minds by reading the Bible and reading other good books.
Reading Isaiah 53 today with my son it just hit me: God has given us two ways to eat. One is through our mouths into our stomachs, and the other is through our eyes and ears into our minds and hearts. When we read, we are challenged to grow strong through asking questions and seeking answers. Our diet is healthy. When we passively take in information through phones, T.V. and social media our diet is unhealthy.
I’m convinced the need for picking up a Bible, chewing on it like a goat or cow does hay, and continuing this ruminating, meditative practice of digesting, regurgitating and digesting again God’s word is the healthy way God has given us to grown strong in our faith.
I’m thanking God for the promise tonight that he will not send out his word in vain. It went out from me into my son today. It was impressed upon him. And it will achieve the purposes God has for it.
We need to read our Bibles! We need to chew on what we read, ask the text questions, pray what we read, and spend time in community talking about what we read. We need a healthy diet for our hearts and minds.
‘ “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.’ -Isaiah 55:10-11
‘ but his delight is in the law of the Lord , and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.’ -Psalms 1:2-3