Posted by: S. L. Doss | July 25, 2015

Principles to Live By #10

My journey on this road of life principles is almost over; I just have 2 more to share with all of you. #10 is:

READ THE WORD OFTEN

I am an avid reader. I often say that I was born with a book in my hand, because I don’t ever remember a time when I did not have something to read nearby. It didn’t matter too much what I read, either, as long as it wasn’t horror (because I get nightmares too easily!) or “nasty” books (if you know what I mean). Suspense kept me on the edge of my seat and my heart pounding, romance (especially Christian romance) gave me the warm fuzzies, mysteries made me wonder, and sci-fi/fantasy filled my head with visions of space and fantastical characters.

I could escape from the mundane world and plunge into the creation of some skilled author, to ride as a knight on horseback, or to travel to a dark planet to save my father; whatever adventure lay before me. When I was depressed, or feeling lonely, or just didn’t want to cope with everyday life, I could escape in the pages of the book.

Unfortunately, though, I still had the mundane facing me when I finished the last page. The story only took me away, never giving me anything to help me “deal.”

Read the Word often.

I’ve had to deal with a lot of different things in my life. Growing up with a single mom was hard. I was a teacher’s pet in school, so didn’t have a lot of friends. I wasn’t the cleanest kid on the block, so got teased about my personal hygiene, and was considered ugly by most. I faced a miscarriage and a husband who was very ill for a long time, job loss…you name it, I probably experienced it. I found no story written that could change my life and help me cope with all the craziness, until I found the Bible.

Now, I know you’ve probably heard many people tout the benefits if reading the Bible, because it’s the “thing to do” as a Christian. But let me tell you as a person who has struggled with self-confidence, loss, life-threatening illness and mental instability, I found something in the Word to help in every facet of my life.

I read examples of God’s patience with the people of Israel when time and time again they rejected his leadership and laws to live like the heathen. Yes, he punished them. But don’t we punish our children when they do wrong?

I saw Jesus wanting the children to come to him even when the disciples tried to shoo them away. I saw love and compassion and mercy when he raised the widow’s son from the dead so she would not be destitute. When he wept at Lazarus’ tomb, I saw that he wasn’t weeping for his friend, but for the people who just couldn’t see past their own problems to the big picture.

The more you read and study, the more God will help you.

I’ve had scriptures pop in my head when facing obstacles, and just the right word helped me make the right decision. No other book, no other “story” could come close to the way the Bible helped me.

Do I still struggle with things? Heavens, yes. I’m human, after all. But I find that the struggle is not as hard when I read the Word often. When I delve into the Word, it’s like a warm blanket that covers me on a chilly day, and I feel safe and secure in my mom’s arms. When I’m confused, I go to the Word and get clarity. When I don’t understand why I am experiencing a particularly difficult challenge, the Word shows me that God is the light in my path and I can trust him to make everything work for his good. And he does. I can look back on my life so far, and see where I’ve made decisions in my own understanding, and where I’ve let God lead me, and every single time, I mean EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. my way has ended up hurting me somehow, but God’s way has kept me from further trouble and pain.

I have found, though, that I can’t just read it like I’d read a novel. I have to study. Cross-reference. Pray while reading, so that I can glean the most information and understanding from the Word. It’s like when you are dating. If you just go to dinner and chat, but not really pay attention to your date, you can’t get to know him or her. You don’t know favorite color, food, places to go, things to do. You know nothing about the other person but just the surface, or shallow, areas, and have no real idea if that person is truly compatible or not.

But when you study that person, talk about important things, listen with both ears and an open mind and really spend quality time with him or her, you get to know the deeps of that person. You fall in love and grow closer together, until you realize he or she is your best friend, and you can’t stand the thought of the rest of your life without the other. It’s the same way with the Word. You can’t truly see the Bible for the blessing it is without digging deep into the stories and examples of God’s power, grace and mercy. You can’t see God as a loving God, a devoted and caring parent who only wants his children to grow up obedient and respectful, honest and righteous. You won’t get to know his voice and hear him direct you in the dark times. If I don’t read the Word often, I feel dry and confused, hopeless and lost. And no number of other books will change that.

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” — II Timothy 2:15

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