Thursday, March 7, 2013

Staring Back

My soul clings to the dust; revive me according to Your word. When I told of my ways, You answered me; teach me Your statutes. (Psalm 119.25-26)

The evangelical author Ravi Zacharias writes:

The Bible is not only written to be read; rather, it reads us. How incredible that God has a personal interest in the struggles of our lives and has chosen to reveal Himself through the course of history in the pages of the Bible.

The concept of the Bible reading us—staring back into our hearts even as we look into its pages—is nothing short of revelatory to me. We talk of Scripture as a dialogue of sorts. Delving into its content is the only reliable means we have of hearing what God wants to tell us. That’s why our search for guidance constantly leads to the Bible. Our confidence that it conveys God’s Word brings its messages to life, and once we’ve pinpointed a passage or theme that speaks to our immediate condition, we apply its principles to our circumstances.

Yet our bond with Scripture is often tenuous at best. For many of us, there’s a formality with which we approach the Bible that often stymies our direct connection with what it says. It’s difficult to imagine how an ancient text can address the complexities of modern life. And the best way to bridge that gap is to open the Bible with full expectation that it sees us as much as we see it. While we look for answers it contains, it finds us with questions about where we are and what we need. This is more than a dialogue. It's a trusted friendship based on acceptance and candor—the meeting of two close and beloved friends: God and us. It’s a love story.

Nowhere in Scripture is this romance more vividly portrayed than Psalm 119. David is overwhelmed. His enemies have surrounded him. His own people don’t understand him. He’s coming to grips with realizing that being a hero and king isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be. He opens the Scripture, where he not only finds the assurance that God is faithful, but he discovers God’s Word staring back at him, seeing him as he truly is, understanding his misgivings and weaknesses, and yet loving him with all the concern and stubbornness of a true friend. “My soul clings to the dust; revive me according to Your word. When I told of my ways, You answered me; teach me Your statutes,” he prays.

During Lent’s season of consecration, when we devote increased time to prayerful reading of God’s Word, we remember that opening its pages involves more than seeing and understanding what it says. It is an act of faith that rejoices in being seen and understood. Often, our interaction with Scripture is less about finding out what we should know and more about discovering we are known to this God Who has pledged to love and care for us always. In our daily devotions, we should become sensitive to the liveliness of the exchange that transpires between Scripture and us. While we are reading it, it’s reading us.

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