Opinion | Walking our faith: The Bible finds us where we are in the moment
Walking our faith
I don’t always remember when and where I was when I was reading one of the underlined passages in the Bible. But in one case I do. One morning in March 2015, a few months after Mom had moved down to Fort Lauderdale, and I sat alone in the house we had shared in Evergreen Colorado, I opened my Bible and began reading from the first chapter in the book of Ephesians.
“I pray for you constantly, asking God the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you wisdom to see clearly and really understand who Christ is and all that he has done for you. I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can see something of the future he has called you to share. I pray that you will begin to understand how incredibly great his power is to help those who believe him.” (Ephesians 1: 16,17,19)
And as I read, I began to cry because I felt as if those words were speaking directly to me. On that particular morning I felt so lost. Mom was settling into her new independent life in Fort Lauderdale and I knew that I also needed to move to pursue my dreams, but I didn’t know where to go and I felt alone and afraid. I felt like a failure. Yet, as I read those words, my heart was filled with hope. I felt God was speaking directly to me that morning through those passages in the Bible.
I’ve asked our local church pastors to share their perspective on the Bible. You’ll be meeting them in today’s column and over the next two weeks. Let me introduce Chuck Straughn, pastor at Ten Peaks Church in Silverthorne:
“People often separate God’s identity from the Bible (even Christians do this, thinking of them as different things). But God says that he exalts his word above his name — “For You have magnified Your word above all Your name.” (from Psalm 138:2 NKJV). So the logic goes that if God has exalted his word (i.e. the Bible), above his name, so should we. In fact, the Word of God is identified in John Chapter 1 as being the person of Jesus. And it says further that “the Word became Flesh and dwelt among us” when Jesus was born (from John 1:14 NKJV). Therefore, these three things are the same: God, His Word (the Bible), and Jesus. So when you pick up your Bible to read it, you are touching the face of God. … You’re touching the heart of God. … And you’re discovering the person of God! It’s really exciting when you believe that. The next time you pick up your Bible, believe that you are touching God’s very self, and He will touch you back through it!”
This is why I believe the Bible is a living document which speaks to us personally whenever and wherever we are in our lives in that moment. Which is why verses I underlined years ago are fond memories and the ones I underline today are filled with electricity. It is as if I am having a conversation in the moment with God and he is pointing to a passage and saying, “Here. Read this. You need to know this.”
Charlie Brumbaugh is the rector at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Breckenridge. He also leads the men’s Bible study on Wednesdays. Here Charlie shares his thoughts on why and how we might approach the Bible:
“Mark Twain once wrote that a classic is ‘a book which people praise and don’t read.’ For many people, the Bible is such a classic! Nevertheless, I encourage all to explore the Bible, even if at times it seems like a sprawling, complex, weird and contradictory tome. After all, isn’t that the way our lives often are?
I view the Bible as a collection of stories passed on by people who were passionate about sharing their experiences of God, and thereby felt moved to express their gratitude, (as one poet put it) “…for the splendor of the whole creation, for the beauty of this world, for the wonder of life, and for the mystery of love.” They felt moved to express their doubt, fear, anger and pain too.
Reading the Bible is like beholding a tapestry on a wall. If one gets inches away from it, it’s fascinating to note details like the weaving pattern and the worn spots. But to appreciate its beauty most fully, one needs to stand back a few paces and take in the colors and patterns of the whole tapestry. So it is with the Bible. If one gets close and focuses on just a few select verses, or even one or two favorite books, it’s intriguing. But one must stand back and consider the whole biblical witness to begin noticing the intertwining, meaningful themes of love, justice, hope, faith, joy, redemption, compassion, forgiveness… but especially love.
There are many ways to read the Bible. But if you want to get your feet wet, I wouldn’t advise starting with Genesis and slogging through to Revelation — few people complete that marathon! One way to start is to read one of the four Gospels which tell the story of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. (I suggest Mark — it’s the shortest, and in many ways the most straight-forward.) Another good story is the amazing life of David (II Samuel, chapters 9-20 and I Kings, chapters 1-2), which seems to have been written by an insider in the court yet could have been written in 2019. If you’re theologically minded, you might tackle one of Paul’s letters (e.g. Romans, I Corinthians, or Galatians).
Personally, I embrace the Bible as the Word of God, not the words of God. What I mean by this is that people wrote these texts a long time ago. But the same God who encountered these storytellers millennia ago still speaks to us today in these endlessly exciting and relevant books. It’s a truly a unique classic!”
See you next week for more perspectives on the importance of the Bible in our lives. Until then, I hope you’ll find your Bible, open it, and begin reading.
Suzanne Anderson lives in Breckenridge. Her books can be found at the Next Page Books and Nosh on Main Street in Frisco.
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