I do not accept challenges nor do I play games. I do not cut and paste and then post. If it’s not personal, I’ll be honest, I just don’t have time nor do I want to make it, but when my friend Noel tagged me in a 10-day challenge to share my favorite scriptures, I looked at it as an opportunity. You want to know what my favorite ones are? Great. But let me tell you WHY they are my favorite.
Here we go.
I grew up Presbyterian. I also think there was a time we were Luthern too, but at this point, it’s all blurred. Church meant we went at Christmas and Easter, but I did go on and off as a child for a period of time with my mother who wanted my sister and I to have a firm foundation. The people were nice and our pastor was a African American woman named Myrtle. I loved Myrtle for many reasons but now, as a adult, I really have come to appreciate her. Myrtle was a pioneer.
I wasn’t really into the Bible as a child. My father’s mother Helen however was and she gave me a tiny, white leather bound Bible with my name etched in gold lettering. Her home was dimly lit and quiet and she often spent time reading hers and I think she had hoped I would do the same. I did not like reading and I dreaded memorizing scripture and Sunday school class so when I was called on, I’d pick at my shoe or at the braid of the girl beside me to create a distraction. I’d do anything to get out of reciting verses because that is what it felt like to me. Recital. On some stage, regurgitating words that I had no understanding of and then getting graded. Would I receive a sticker this week? Likely not. Why? I had no relationship with this Jesus who seemed so far off and I didn’t know how to relate to Him through a book. Head knowledge has always been a nemesis. I wanted to KNOW the Word Himself and that was WHO I wanted, the very person of Jesus. I wanted real. I wanted relationship.
“So the Word became flesh and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.” John 1:14
These words still sit humbly in my spirit. The Word became flesh. He made His home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. We are loved, THAT much.The Word did not just come as a baby, a book or a house guest who would leave. He came to reside IN me, the actual person of Jesus.
10 years ago I couldn’t fathom some far-off God being so hands-on present. I sat at a ladies retreat, done. I showed up because showing up is what I did and was in the midst of ruining the entirety of my life as I knew it. I was far removed from reality, but I do remember sitting in that chair, knuckles white to the bone from gripping the edges. I wanted to be anywhere but there when I heard a voice pop into my conciousness. It sounded much like my own and it said, “If you would just come to me, I would help you with all this.”
Envision a juggler and a poor one at that. That was me. Poorly juggling…
That voice. I would not say those things to myself, would I? Was it my conscience? I decided to take a chance that THAT voice WAS Jesus. Why not? I WAS at a ladies retreat and at that point, I had nothing to lose. Overtime, I have learned to distinguish His voice from my own and from others. I am learning still.
I have invited you here because I’m more of an outpost, meaning I relate better to people who are kind of on the fence when it comes to religion and church. I have an evangelistic, empathetic heart and don’t really know what to do with it besides wake up each day and LIVE. I believe God is everywhere and in everyone. I believe He is in it all and can use it all…both the good and the not great and is continuously present. When we choose to SEE and HEAR, I believe we can encounter a supernatural God in our every day lives. He is boundless and full of mystery and wonder and I will not place the limits of my knowledge of Him to the confines of a book. I will however hold the Bible in high regard and esteem. I do not think you can fully know the Father without having an overall understanding of it because the many pages that lie within it pour the foundational framework of His heart from which we walk forward. He is consistent and multi-facited and His nature and character are continuously revealed while inviting the reader into a new discovery and another conversation. I for one, am indebted to its teaching but my Bible is not the One I worship.
The very Word of God Himself is.
One thing that has become glaringly obvious to me is that there are certain things you just don’t mess with when it comes to people: Money, Politics and Religion. It no wonder why Jesus continuously challenged the leaders of His day. Want to see everything on the inside of someone rise to the surface? Talk about one of these three subjects. You don’t have spend a lot of time on social media to watch a newsfeed fill fast with arguments and debates when it comes to theology. Everyone thinks what they believe is THE way; we respond to be right instead of responding to better understand and when we do, we build walls instead of bridges. We all live in some shade of gray and don’t even know it.
Jesus, the true Way, please show us. “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” John 16:13
In my 20’s, I was not a fan of religion and not because of God, but because of an experience where someone vehemently picked and chose scriptures to win and prove their point about my choices. They bypassed a relationship WITH me in order to stand firmly in what they believed in and only wanted a relationship when I saw their light. I remember thinking, “If THIS is Christianity, I want nothing to do with it.” I think we can easily contradict the gospel if we do not carefully guard how we present it. The Bible was meant to be used in the context of relationship, a door that opens up conversations not only WITH God but WITH others. We close those doors before they have a chance to fully widen by the way in which we present the message. We lose our ability to influence when doors are closed and in my opinion, too many doors are shut tight.
Then I think of Jesus on the cross. I think of Him whispering these words after greatly suffering, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” Luke 23:34. Those words shift the posture of my heart. If He could be rejected, humiliated, tortured and abandoned and still choose forgiveness, why can’t I? Forgiveness…asking for it and extending it is the CORE of Christianity. We often don’t know what we are doing; we rarely seek to understand our own motives.
Are we motivated by fear or love? Answering that question is key.
I hope we can take an intentional step back and see one another as He sees us. Wonderfully, thoughtfully and intentionally made. I hope that we can see His original design for mankind and understand that indeed, the Word HAS been made flesh. Maybe we would treat each other differently if we looked for Jesus in each other instead of focusing on the mud and the muck that often forms the heavy film of distraction.
So friends, I encourage you to listen. I encourage you to dig deep. I encourage you to guard your heart. Lift your head up and SEE. Open your ears and HEAR; walk by the Spirit. Let living Love lead you into a deep and meaningful relationship that surpasses the bound book you have been beaten by or that you hold your hands so closely to.
There is more.