I can't remember where I first heard this little tale, but it's worth repeating.
A mother was cleaning house one day with her 5-year-old child playing nearby. "Mommy, isn't that God's book?" asked the child, pointing to a Bible on the coffee table. The mother, pleased with the perceptiveness of her offspring, replied in the affirmative. After a moment of quiet reflection, the little girl said, "Well, shouldn't we give it back since we never use it?"
I truly wonder if there is anything in the whole world that is so valuable, so accessible, and yet so underutilized by individuals as the Bible? In case I have been unclear previously, in this fourth issue of Faith and Purpose I will plainly state the goal of these offerings: to encourage people to be intrigued with the word of God and to see the value of scripture for their daily lives. At 45 years of age, I continue to be amazed by the wonder and wisdom that God has shared with us in His holy word. I am fully convinced that the Bible is God's written revelation to humans like you and me so that we might clearly understand His purposes and plans. I believe the testimony of scripture when it says about itself in Hebrews 4:12, "the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword...". I have experienced the otherwise unexplainable moment when in the course of reading the Bible, the words jump off the page and into my mind and heart to give me guidance or help or comfort for the particular crud that life has decided to dish out at the time. I have also felt the sting of the sword tip when God's word points out my ever-present shortcomings (can I say "sin" here?).
I have found that one reason we don't spend more time mining the treasures of scripture has to do with the sheer size of the book. Where do we start? Once, when my younger daughter was about 5 or 6, we were visiting friends in Little Rock. A football game between the kids was in progress when I decided to show off my John Elway-like skills at quarterback (people say I look like Elway, and I always reply that he throws like me). I told my daughter to hike the ball to me and then go out for a pass. Upon giving the signal from the shotgun position, nothing happened. I repeated the command and still no snap. Finally, I realized that she was crying. I'm pretty sure there's no crying in football. "Katie, honey, just hike the ball to me." "But Daddy," she sobbed, "I don't know how to hike." Although I had spent many hours with both of my daughters playing whiffle ball, I realized that I had never taught them anything about football. Because she didn't know what to do, my daughter was immobilized. How often do we avoid the Bible because we're not sure how to get our arms around it? Think about the following suggestions. Get a good study Bible that offers notes and practical applications. Start your exploration of Scripture with the gospel of John. As you read John, look for the answer to this question: who is Jesus Christ? Finally, ask your pastor or someone you trust for help with understanding the Bible. Don't be immobilized by not knowing what to do.
If I need a definitive answer to a specific question, I do my best to go to someone or some source that can give an authoritative answer. When I need to know the definition of a word, I look it up in a Webster's dictionary. If I have a legal question, I ask a lawyer. If I'm curious about our bank balance, I ask my wife!
Since God is the ultimate authority, why wouldn't I ask Him any question I have about any of life's great or small issues? Though God is indeed mysterious, He has revealed more about Himself in scripture than I could ever process in a lifetime. He says in Jeremiah 29:13, "You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart." In John 6, Jesus asks His disciples if they are planning to follow the crowds that "were not walking with Him anymore." Peter replied, "Lord to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life." Amen, Peter! Pick up the words of eternal life off the coffee table, read them and obey them and see what God will do through your life.