So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
In our Summer School series, we have been learning about the Bible, the inspired and inerrant Word of God. We have heard that the Bible is relevant to our daily lives and is reliable because of the number of early manuscripts and their closeness to the original text. We know that it speaks truth because of the amazing quantity of prophesies recorded in this book that later came to pass, exactly as they were given. We know that the Bible is profitable for us and that it is alive and active. We know that it works to connect us with the mind and heart of God and that it serves as a mirror, revealing our places of brokenness so we can ask God to heal them. We know a lot about the Bible.
But here is where I get really honest. I have heard the above information about God’s Word before. And I believe every bit of it. But I still find myself failing at consistent reading of the Bible. I’ll have this span of time where I’m very good at reading every day, really thinking about what I’m reading and then allowing it to change my heart and mind. But then I’ll have this other length of time when I don’t really read at all. I feel guilty about this, and I feel ashamed, but those feelings don’t tend to motivate me to be different.
I think maybe I view daily Bible reading as work. It’s as if I have these important things I have to do today, and reading the Bible is one of them. So then I do the stuff I think is most pressing, and then I tell myself I deserve a break where I’m doing nothing, and then it’s the end of the day, and I still haven’t read. And if I allow myself to think about the fact that I haven’t read the Bible at all, I feel pretty bad about it. But, you know, I’m tired. And my bed is calling me.
So I sat down this morning to write this devotional, and I already felt ashamed. “Self,” I said, “you don’t deserve to be able to write anything about this. You deserve to have a big blank page staring at you. You will probably need to go look up something from Max Lucado or Chuck Swindoll or someone like that. It’s clear from the way those guys write that they read their Bibles a lot. And you, self, you suck. So there’s no way you will be able to write this devo.” (I know. It’s bad self-talk. I should be ashamed of my negative self-talk. Right?! Because being ashamed of it will surely make me talk to myself more nicely, right.?)
I opened my Bible to my favorite verse from Sunday’s lesson, Hebrews 4:12. And then I glanced above it. And directly above this verse, the writer is talking about rest. Rest. And it clicked for me: God’s Word is alive and active, partly to remind me that I am accepted and loved by him. I don’t deserve his grace and mercy, it’s true. But he delights in gifting me with it. Over and over and over and over and over. So I was humbled by my loving God to be shown that, while I was shaming myself for my flaws, he was ready to bless me with his Word in a way that shattered all my self-loathing and reduced me to tears. Truly. Tears. To be reminded by God yet again that I am loved and accepted. I am wanted. My own shortcomings, my sins, do not have the power to change who he is. Today, don’t let your shame or guilt keep you from approaching God’s living Word. He accepts you just as you are, for all the times you’ve failed to do what you ought to do. He will speak to you through the Bible and reveal to you, as he has with me, his steadfast lovingkindness.