Once I went on a four-day thirty-plus mile hike into Glacier National Park. It was my first real hike. Until then, I considered walking through the shopping mall to be hiking enough. My friends love walking, I love walking to the car.
At the time, I was new on staff at a church and a few of the pastors, including my boss, wanted some quality time together. To me, quality time could as easily been experienced at a ballgame. I could even have enjoyed quality time in Hawaii.
Since hiking wasn’t my lifestyle, I had to buy or borrow a number of things for the trip. I couldn’t afford to buy much, but I had to have food. So I browsed all the pre-packaged, just-add-water, gourmet options and purchased my selections. I borrowed things I wouldn’t use again, like tents and hiking shoes.
And then came The Trip. How can people eat that stuff? By day two I could hardly stand the food and by day three I gave up on it. And how was I to know that walking in someone else’s shoes was a sure bet for record-breaking size blisters? And the flies. I don’t think of myself as overly attractive, but the biggest flies in world with bites that could down an elephant found me to be absolutely gorgeous!
I bought what I couldn’t stomach. I borrowed what I should have personalized. I failed to protect myself against things that bugged me.
Does it sound like your faith at times? We start out with first love for Jesus. But then people begin to lead us to places we don’t want to go. We buy into teaching that proves to be wrong. We borrow the practices of others to try to fit in. We tolerate pain in the name of fellowship. And then we wonder where our heart went.
We are too easily led away from desire in the name of duty or discipline. To fully experience the image of God in and through us, we must allow the Holy Spirit to lead us back to the fire of intimacy. For years now, whenever I feel duty crowd out desire, I return to the basics of relationship with God fueled by his word and prayer.
Psalm 119 is David’s longest psalm and is focused on God’s word. He wrote:
- I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word (vs. 14-16).
- The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold (v. 72).
- Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long (v.97).
- How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth (v.103).
David understood that it takes the word of God to shape the work of God in us.
No other literature has been as preserved as the Bible, God’s word to us. It was written progressively over a period of about 1600 years. Moses had the book of the law preserved in the tabernacle (Deuteronomy 31:24). The king was to write for himself a copy of the law on a scroll (Deuteronomy 17:18). While in captivity, Ezra had the law in his hand. Today, in whole or in part, more than 5000 manuscripts of the New Testament in its original language are known, far surpassing the preservation of any other written document.
Why such preservation? Perhaps it is because God considers it to be more than a book. Scripture is inspired, God-breathed, living and active. To make it dynamic in your life, remember the W.O.R.D. on the word:
- Want it
- Your word is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of gold and silver. Psalm 119:72
- They are more precious than gold, they are sweeter than honey. Psalm 19: 10
- Like newborn babies, crave the pure milk of the word. I Peter 2:2
- Open it
- His delight is in the word of the Lord and on his word he meditates day and night. Psalm 1:2
- They examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. Acts 17:11
- All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable…so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
- Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly. Colossians 3:16
- Receive it
- They received the message with great eagerness. Acts 17:11
- You accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe. I Thessalonians 2:13
- For the word of God is living and active. Hebrews 4:12
- Do it and Declare it
- Do not merely listen to the word and deceive yourselves. Do what it says. James 1:22
- My tongue will sing of your word, Psalm 119:172