After two long days and nights of fruitless searching, a weary volunteer passing a wooded area for the umpteenth time spotted a tiny bare foot protruding from the underbrush. Gently, she cleared the leaves from the motionless three-year old boy. “Billy, Billy, wake up. Are you okay?”
Slowly, one eye began to open, then another. “Where’s my mommy?” he hoarsely whispered. The shout “Come quick, little Billy’s alive!” could be heard clear across the county. Hundreds of neighbors, rescue personnel and family came running to see the most precious sight in the world. A precious child was lost, feared dead but now he was found, hungry but alive.
What’s going on? Who is Billy? Were you involved in the story? It’s interesting how words can affect you. Good writing can move you from laughter to tears: expose painful memories or provide the motivation to accept a new challenge. Have you ever read a story or book and couldn’t stop? Such is the power of the word.
But what about God’s Word? Can a two to five thousand year old collection of words still have the power to change lives even now?
Every year for many years, I participated in the graduation of a Disciple Bible Study class. For nine months, students committed to reading the Bible 30 minutes per day plus attend a two-hour class each week. Why did they do it? Here is what the Bible says:
† Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path. (Psalm 119:105)
† Every word of God proves true. (Proverbs 30:5)
† The grass withers, and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever. (Isaiah 40:8)
† In the beginning the Word already existed. He was with God, and he was God. (John 1:1)
† For the word of God is full of living power. It is sharper than the sharpest knife, cutting deep into our innermost thoughts and desires. It exposes us for what we really are. (Hebrews 4:12)
“A lamp to light my path. The truth, which has always been, that will stand forever. The living power that cuts deep into our innermost thoughts and desires.”
Can God’s Word really do all that?
Yes, and more.
Shortly before deciding to leave my business and become a minister, I was invited to a breakfast honoring a missionary on vacation from Uganda. Just like everyone else, I went forward to meet her and offer prayers. She was politely thanking people and talking until she came to me.
She did not know me or my future plans but when she paused and took my hand, held it for what seemed like hours and then looked deep into my eyes. Finally, she asked: “Are you going into the ministry?”
Startled, I replied: “Yes, I am, but how did you know?”
“Never mind that,” she said. “What is important is that God wants me to say something to you!”
I was stunned. Nervous already about my dramatic career change, I desperately needed to hear something from God. But she didn’t know me or what I was experiencing. What could she possibly say that would resolve my fear and confusion?
What she said next, I will never forget. “God says, you are to keep your nose buried in the Bible and let your first priority always be to teach God’s Word. If you do that you will succeed! I will be praying for you.”
Having said what needed to be said, she turned away from me and began talking once again to the others.
Over the years, I have discovered how right she was. God’s Word has all the power anyone could possibly need or use. My responsibility as a pastor is simply to enable you to experience it. Paul emphasized to a young pastor named Timothy: “Until I get there, focus on reading the Scriptures to the church, encouraging the believers, and teaching them.” (1 Timothy 4:13)
After years of fruitless wandering your weary eyes scan a passage of Scripture for the umpteenth time. Suddenly you spot a tiny nugget of truth amidst the words. A soft voice whispers, “Wake up! Are you okay?” Slowly, one eye begins to open, then another. “My God… My Lord!” you say and all heaven shouts as they witness the most precious sight in the world.
“Come quick! A precious child was lost, feared dead but now is found, hungry but alive.”