Last week, Steve and I watched a DVD that came highly recommended to us: “Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story.” It is the story of—you guessed it—Ben Carson, one of the world’s leading neurosurgeons. Even though the acting wasn’t the best, it was an inspirational movie, and I’m glad I watched it. It showed how making right choices and living by principle can make the difference between a productive life and a wasted one.
As it turns out, Ben Carson is a devout believer in Jesus Christ. The movie tried to show some of the spiritual pivot points in his life, times when he had genuine, life-changing encounters with God. These scenes came off as weird and stiff—acted, rather than real. I always find this disappointing. I, too, am a devout believer, but even I get weirded out by the cinematic portrayal of faith. It rarely comes across as desirable, as something that the viewer would want to experience for himself or herself.
If I feel this way watching movies that try to portray what a relationship with God looks like, I can only imagine what those that don’t have a relationship with Him must think.
So let me give a try at describing it myself: living in relationship with God is as natural for me as getting up and brushing my teeth in the morning. It is not contrived or forced; it is not stiff and “religious”-looking or sounding. It influences everything I do—actions that some might labeled “religious,” such as reading the Bible and praying and worshipping, but also actions like running (see My Running Story) and talking to my husband and exercising and reading books and socializing and working on my business and cleaning my house. As I wrote here, there is no clear demarcation of where the spiritual part of me stops and the physical and soulish parts of me begin.
I talk to God through prayer, and I listen for His direction and counsel to me (it has never been audible, but sometimes it has been so strong, it has felt audible!), I build relationship with others that hold to my same values, I read the Bible, valuing it not just as ‘a good read,’ but as God’s Word to me. I hold to the principles in the Word of God; it is the standard for how to live. Making time to read the Word and to pray are two of my MITs—the most-important-things I attempt to do every day.
I say all this to establish that living my faith is not a ritual with me. It is not my attempt to appease God so He won’t be angry with me, either. My faith is relationship with God, it is the very core of who I am. And just like any healthy relationship, it is constantly growing and changing and enhancing!
Having said all that, I hope to put you at ease and keep you from being “weirded out” by my sharing about my relationship with God, because that’s what this column, “The Living Word,” is about. I have held off on starting this column before now because I don’t want this blog to be labeled or perceived as “religious,” as religion—at least not in the way the word is usually used—is not a value of mine, it does not represent who I am. From my perspective, the way I generally see that word tossed around, it is a “method,” a form, a ritual, an attempt—but not the real thing.
I have written about Bible Study before. It is a subject near and dear to my heart. If I were to try to put into words why it is so important to me, I would have to say it is because I have experienced and can personally attest to the statement in Hebrews 4:12 – “The word of God is living and active…” This has proven so true for me. The word of God (the Bible) is not like any other book, not just ink and paper. It is living! It is active! When I read it, it does something deep within me. It is not, as some misconstrue, simply a book of rules (though there are “thou shalts” and “thou shalt nots” in there!), but a book of principles that span the ages, principles that remain the same regardless of changing times. Reading the Bible from the position of faith is an opportunity to relate to God on an intimate level, to actually be privy to His secrets (Ps 25:14)!
This column is not meant to be an intellecutal or theological study of the Bible; it is more like giving you a glimpse at bits and pieces of my spiritual journal.
My objectives are simple:
1) “The Living Word” will be an outlet for me to share some of the truths that I see in my study of the Word;
2) It will be an opportunity to encourage readers to get into the Word for themselves and make it a priority (an MIT?), a natural part of life;
3) A sub-objective will be to sometimes demonstrate study methods and the “how to” for personalizing the Word of God as you read. Personalizing the Word—making it yours—is the very heart of what Bible study should be.