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May all be blessed by these holy words
I was 16 when Dad said to me, “I may have questions, but I want my pastor to be certain.”
We were talking about evolution and the truthfulness of the Bible’s creation stories. A few years later, when a “liberal” pastor came to serve my home congregation, my parents and others left to start a new church, a “Bible-believing” church. What they said then, I’ve heard from others: “They took away my Bible.”
For a time, I gave up on the Bible. Many of us do. I opened my eyes and ears wide and let contradictions undermine my trust in the relevance of biblical spirituality for my life. In other days, I held my holy book with a death grip and closed my eyes and ears to science and study that contradicted or made common its thoughts.
Today I hold my Bible gently but firmly. I have many questions still, but I also enjoy an unexpected and humble certainty toward our holy book.
I’m certain that reading the Bible is hard. It’s hard to find meaning in words held holy through thousands of years, many cultures and hundreds of languages. It’s hard to find time and space to “be still” and quiet my mind and hear the voice of my soul and the voice of my God. It’s hard to seek the truths God wants to teach beyond the “fact and fiction” of the Bible’s stories and our own biases. It’s hard to explore with other seekers what these penetrating verses reveal about our faults. It’s even hard to express the joys and hopes and dreams these words awaken deep in our souls.
I’m certain that reading the Bible is hard and I’m doubly certain that it’s worth the trouble. I’m certain that reading and praying our book of faith has blessed saints to the thousandth generation and that it’s blessing me as well: enlarging my world, my soul, my idea of who God is and my ability to love God and to love you.
I am certain we are blessed by holy words. May you be blessed by holy words:
• Words of hope prayed in hospital rooms and at gravesides: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…” (Psalm 23)
• Words of painful honesty: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us…”
• Words sung with trust and hope: “The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love!” (Psalm 103)
• Words breathed as a mantra in troubled times: “Do not be afraid, only believe…” (Mark 5)
• Words of beauty and a vision worth living for: “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful… Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things… (1 Corinthians 13).