As I began to share earlier this week, we have been on an intense journey this year, learning to trust in God’s promises and faithfulness even when the road seems dark and dreary. When 2016 began, I really wanted one word to focus on. I’d read of several other people who did this, having a word to focus on for an entire year, possibly partnering a Bible verse with it to memorize and really grow in throughout the year.
I thought this was such a profound and simple approach because, if you’re anything like me, I can easily make a list of 27 things I want changed in my life right now and am impatiently distracted by everything needing to change, a crazy person running around making lists and seeking improvement. Yet, by focusing on one word, I simplified my approach to the new year and, in many ways, made grounded by sole focus – I have been seeking to be more grounded in my faith, in my calling, in my relationships.
Now, the year is obviously only half over so clearly there’s still a ways to go. But so much has happened in these past six months, so much growth and change and faith building moments that I knew I had to begin documenting and sharing God’s incredible faithfulness when we walk in obedience of His Word.
One of my weird interests is with professional athletes’ habits. I love reading and studying the daily habits of people who have made their entire lives about a sport – how they sleep, what they eat, where they spend the time all revolves around this thing they’ve committed their lives to. I think we as Christians have much to learn from this form of discipline, commitment, and consistent baby steps. So, as much as I would’ve liked to just wake up on January 1st and suddenly be filled with all the wisdom and knowledge of God’s word, I knew it wasn’t going to be that easily. I knew I needed the baby step discipline of professional athletes and to get into scripture like I have never before.
“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:7 – 9
Over the past six months, God has met me time and again in the pages of the Old Testament. YHWH is a God who seeks out His people, again and again, no matter how many times they fail him. He’s a God who is faithful, even when the Israelites doubt, grumble and beg to return to the days of Egyptian slavery. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is a God who keeps his covenant from one generation to the next. In the Book of Joshua, God is one who constantly reminds his people to take courage and do not fear for the battle is not their’s but the battle is always God’s. Oh, what miracles happen when we pause and trust!
“The Lord will fight for you. You need only be still.”
Almost every morning for the past six months (I say almost because, let’s face it, #lifehappens), I woke up and spent the first 30 minutes working my way through the chronological Bible reading plan. I have marveled at the obedience of Moses, walked the wilderness with the Israelites, and wondered what it means to grumble well with Job. Probably for truly the first time in my life, I learned each morning what it meant to be dependent on God’s word, trying to memorize the Psalms of David so that throughout the day when doubt, fear, and insecurity tried to creep in, I had some powerful truths to cling to.
“I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from he Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip – he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.”
Psalm 121:1 – 4
The first several months of this year felt really dry – I struggled to hear God’s voice and feel his presence in my day to day life. But every morning when I got up, poured myself a cup of coffee, and sat with my Bible, I felt God whisper “Trust in My Word”. I begged for a big burning bush moment and every time I did, through the tears, God impressed on my heart, “Here it is. It is in this scripture. Right here for you, my daughter.” It was a constant invitation to grow my roots deep, to become more grounded in God’s promises through his word.
I have always known God to speak through his Spirit, through worship songs, and through other people. I’ve also known God would also speak through scripture but I guess it was never a big priority of mine to experience it, especially when those other ways of interacting with God was such a huge part of my life. I’ve gone through seasons where I’ve been more or less consistent with my daily Bible reading and I definitely get my fair share of Bible knowledge in my seminary courses. But then all of the other experiences of God seemed to fade away and all it feels like you’re left with is this book, a book that promises to never return void. And it’s true. God’s word is faithful and good. He speaks to us through His word, guiding and convicting, loving and caring.
“But the Lord was gracious to them and had compassion and showed concern for them because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. To this day he has been unwilling to destroy them or banish them from his presence.”
2 Kings 13:23
It has been a hard and emotional several months. And if it wasn’t for the faithfulness of God’s word, I’m not sure where I would be. But can I encourage you, wherever you are with Bible reading and memorizing scripture, to begin somewhere? Or to keep going from where you are? Join a Bible study. Read a Psalm each morning. Write a verse on a post it note and stick it on your mirror, your fridge, your steering wheel. Let us build a muscle memory so that when tragedy strikes, no matter how big or small it might be, may our first response be to speak out the truths of God, clinging to our Rock and Redeemer.
// What scripture verses have stuck out to you lately? What have you been reading or memorizing lately?