Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105
I have been a student of the Bible most of my life. As a child I remember hearing Bible stories in Sunday school and learning about the great heroes of the faith. In the third grade the church gave me a Bible with my name inscribed inside the front cover. My Bible. I still have that one – among the many Bibles in my office is that first one.
As a teenager and young adult, I admit I didn’t pay much attention to continuing to learn scripture. But as a young father I took my children to church and once again rekindled my relationship with the Bible. Of course, as a pastor for 42 years I have read and studied God’s Word daily, for classes, for sermons, for personal devotionals, and a number of other reasons that pastors read scripture.
For me, it is a lifelong gift of insight and inspiration, of spiritual nurture and practical advice, of offering hope and issuing challenge. The Bible is all this and more. Sometimes I love what I find in the pages of holy scripture, phrases like:
Lord, you are my help and my deliverer.
Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”
For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.
Sometimes I am stunned and chastened by what the Bible says to me:
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
Do not judge or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others you will be judged.
Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?
I don’t even know what to do with these. Yes, I know that we can justify ourselves and explain this one way and another, but still…these are harsh words. And yet, my lack of understanding does not mean I should ignore all that I do know about the Bible. And this I know beyond a shadow of doubt:
God loves me with an everlasting love. God forgives me for the mistakes in my life. God has an eternal home for me when my life on earth is through. And God admonishes me not to judge others but to extend love and mercy to all.
And that’s why I read the Bible.