You have some favorite stories. You may enjoy them as movies, as books, or as tales told. You love these stories because they speak to you, they draw you into their world, and they move you. The Bible is a story like this. The Bible is a panoramic account of God’s rescue. But as with Tolstoy’s War and Peace, you can get lost in the Bible and miss its stirring drama. The Bible is more than a story; it is God speaking to you. It is God drawing you near to him. My friend Tracie said, “I love God’s Word, because it draws my heart closer to God’s heart.” You may know what Tracie is saying. Or you may want what she has experienced, but you cannot find it. Maybe this article will help you kindle a deeper love for God’s Word.
People who need the Lord can learn to love his Word. People held by the Lord can love his Word too. Listen to some friends’ thoughts about Scripture. Susan said, “I love the Word of God because it convicted my rambling heart and drew me into his presence.” Carol commented, “God’s Word fits me where I am at today, and it will again tomorrow, and the next day.” Matt wrote, “Every journey through the Scriptures challenges my assumptions.” Elizabeth said, “In his Word I find encouragement when battling depression, stability through transitions, and rest for my overwhelmed heart.” Mike added, “God’s Word is my light at the end of the tunnel.”
What would you say? Have you followed other guides and found them wanting? Do you appreciate God’s Word because it gives you assurance? Maybe you love the instructive stories. Maybe you see yourself in Scripture and are grateful for God’s care. Or maybe some passages stump you. Maybe you’ve tried to seek God in Scripture but can’t connect. A friend said, “I keep turning to God in desperation because nothing else helps. Silence, I’ve received silence.” Her experience is like Job’s. Like a marriage partner, you don’t have to understand everything in the Bible to love it. But you need to keep listening.
Listening to God’s Word
You can grow in your love for God’s Word by spending time with it. The best thing to do is to read it. Listen to his wisdom, instruction, inspiration, and promises. Take note of God’s warnings, guidance, comfort, and encouragement. Imagine you were there. Pray the Bible’s promises for your life. “Lord, I’m resisting the devil; make him flee” (see James 4:7). “God, I want to see you; help me purify my heart” (see Matthew 5:8). Ponder what God is communicating. Look for themes. Recite verses that help you.
You will increase your love for God by engaging him in his Word. My wife just challenged the young moms in her Bible study group to read for three minutes a day. Three minutes isn’t much, but she knows they’ll get hooked and want more. This is because God reveals himself in his Word. God is love, and his love will draw you in. You will find God’s comfort and strength for your life. Alicia thinks about Paul’s thorn in the flesh when her leg is aching. God’s Word simplifies problems for Wanda; it helps her adopt his perspective. Larry wrote, “Without his Word, my life would be tossed about by Satan’s lies and deception.” A love for God’s Word can change that. It can make you tremble.
Trembling at God’s Word
Saints and sinners tremble before the Word of God for different reasons. Sinners tremble because the Bible warns of coming judgment. God’s Word is a mirror; it shows that you deserve punishment for your wrongdoing. If you are not reconciled to God through Jesus, your destiny is dire. Isaiah observed, “The sinners in Zion are terrified; trembling grips the godless: ‘Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?’” (Isaiah 33:14). Just the thought of this is scary. God’s judgment ought to make you tremble. He warns you to move you to repent.
Not all trembling in Scripture, however, comes from fear. King David wrote, “Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness. Tremble before him, all the earth!” (1 Chronicles 16:29, 30; see also Psalm 2:11 and Psalm 99:1-3.). God’s awesomeness, his power and his perfection, ought to make you quake.
You also may tremble with anticipation. Like a preschooler on Christmas Eve, your insides may quiver at the wonders God has in store. You will know deeper love than you have ever imagined. You will rejoice over the reunions and redemptions of Heaven. Even before then, you may shake with excitement when you catch a glimpse of God’s transforming power. “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived—the things God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). Read the Bible and tremble in your soul.
Conforming to God’s Word
I was on a path of self-destruction when God rescued me. His words in Scripture caught my attention. They gave me confidence that God cared about me. God’s Word called me to repentance, to closeness with him, and to a new life. This took time. And it’s been repeated numerous times. God declared, “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return without watering the earth, . . . so is my word that goes out from my mouth. It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire” (Isaiah 55:10, 11). Soaking your soul in God’s Word will make a difference.
Barry noted, “I love God’s Word because it is definitive! God’s Word tells you exactly how he feels.” Deb added, “It’s just true. God cannot lie.” You can count on the guidance of God’s truth. Conforming to his Word will bless both you and those around you. Often this blessing comes in ways you never expected. Seeking God’s Word for your personal life may help your marriage. Reading Scripture to mentor a friend may provide a flash of insight for your own challenges. But how do you conform to what the Bible says?
Read Scriptures multiple times. Let the Holy Spirit marinate your mind by re-reading a passage, chapter, or book five or six times (see sidebar). Ponder it. Consult various translations. Look for repeated words or concepts. Keep praying, “Teach me, Lord, the way of your decrees” (Psalm 119:33); “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief” (Mark 9:24). Next write. Write down your insights. Put on paper or on your phone or computer how this Scripture intersects with your life. Record the inner arguments over why you don’t want to apply God’s Word to your life. Then talk. Talk with a friend about what you propose to do. Let him or her counsel you, encourage you, pray with you and check up on you. This will help you conform your life to God’s Word.
Waiting for God to Speak
Back to my friend with the Job-like experience. God does not always speak when we seek. For King Saul, this wound was self-inflicted. “He inquired of the Lord, but the Lord did not answer him” (1 Samuel 28:6). Saul’s sins had made God silent (see 1 Samuel 15:23, 26, 35). For righteous Job, however, the torturous wait for God to speak was the devil’s temptation. He may allow you to read without results. You may listen and hear nothing for a time. Nevertheless, read on; study deeply; pray over passages. God promised inevitably to break through the haze (Isaiah 55:11; Jeremiah 29:13; these promises to Israel parallel Jesus’ promises in John 10:35b; John 14:15-18; 2 Corinthians 1:20.) To quote Frances Schaeffer, “He is there, and he is not silent.”
Let God’s love for you draw you into a love for his Word. Like Mike, you will find, “Whether in times of joy or times of discouragement, God’s Word gives peace, comfort, and strength.” Krista added, “No matter what situation I’m going through, there’s always a nugget of truth in there for me. Sometimes it’s a truth I don’t particularly want to hear. But it’s always there and I love that.” God has spoken, and he is speaking to you. He’s telling his story and weaving yours into it. You can learn to love God’s Word for that. Listen to him; tremble before him; and conform to God through his Word.
Jerran Jackson reads God’s Word in Clarksburg, Indiana.