I have a picture tucked away in my memory. I am ten years old, coming home from school on a late spring afternoon with my friend, Cathy. Earlier, our class was visited by the Gideons, and now we each hold in our hands a red New Testament with Psalms. We are going to get started reading that very afternoon, but being unregenerate ten year old girls with short attention spans, we don't make it past the third chapter of Matthew.
Fast forward to my last year of high school. It has not been a good year. Last year, I was heavily immersed in Mormon teaching. Now, I am merely confused, in a new school, and angry about life in general. I pull out that little New Testament and I find the Psalms. I love the Psalms. They are poetry and prayer all rolled into one. I don't really understand them, but I love to read them. Sitting on my bed, cross-legged, I read Psalm 4: "In peace I both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety." I love that idea; that God could make me dwell in safety. I just know that the Bible is very important.
I don't really understand the bible yet, but I want to know more. Two years later, I am given a bible by the woman who will become my mother-in-law. I sit on that same bed where I read the Psalms, and I flip through the pages she has told me to read. Romans 6:23 hits me like a 2 x 4 over the head: "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." A couple of weeks later, struggling with the gnawing reality that I cannot call myself Christ's child, I bend by my bed and ask God to forgive me and make me His own. Slowly, I begin to realize how crucial the Word is. Without it, I didn't understand; now I see.
Throughout my life, the most profound moments have occurred when I have confronted God through His Word. Whether it is moments in my past where I have seen how God orchestrated those circumstances so that I would be taken to His Word, or whether it has been times of trial where I have found guidance and truth to get through the trial and to be completed, nothing has changed me as much as His Word.
This is a message I repeat often, and perhaps I should feel apologetic about repeating myself. However, it is a message that needs repeating: we need His word desperately. It is our lifeline to God. If we are not probing the depths of God's Word, how can we know Him more intimately? Without His word, we cannot even come to saving knowledge of Him; apart from it we will simply not grow. The Spirit always speaks to us through the Word, and it is that Spirit that teaches us, refines us, and comforts us. It is in the pages of God's Word that we understand who we are, who God is, and how we may properly relate to Him.
Psalm 119:130 says: "The unfolding of your word gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple."
I love that image of the word being unfolded to take away my darkness. When something is unfolded, it is a gradual revealing, and that is what understanding the Word has been like for me. As I have aged chronologically and grown spiritually, more and more of His Word has been unfolded to me. As a simple woman, I have been given understanding through that process. It has removed my darkness and shown me the truth. It is my very life.
I don't have a lot of valuable advice to give, but I can give you this: get into the Word. Do more than just read it. Study it, pick it apart, listen to others expound it, apply it to your heart, roll in it, soak in it. If you have limited time to read, choose to make the Bible the thing that you do read, first and foremost.
Yes, I sound like a broken record. This is not a new message, and in a world where we have short attention spans and desire to have something novel everyday, this message may seem tired and overdone. It isn't. It's a message we need every day, because we are so prone to forgetting.
I want to long for the Word above all else. I want to cry with the Psalmist: "Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day" (Ps. 119:87). Don't you?