I am a reader. C.S. Lewis quoted another when he said “We read to learn that we are not alone.” And I have to agree with that assessment. For me, reading is a chance to discuss stories with new friends, or evaluate points of view with others. I read to learn. I read to grow. I read to be swept away. I read to learn that I am not alone.
If you have noticed my “Blog Roll” on this page, I have listed a few of the blogs that I am a regular reader of. One blog, “The Potter’s Hand” is written by a dear friend of mine who has a teaching degree and left the education system in order to home school her four children. She shares the ups and downs, joys and sorrows of motherhood and homeschooling, along with the precious truths she learns in her relationship with God. I can always find encouragement in her writings. Another blog, “Broken Believers” is written by a friend and pastor who is living with a permanent mental illness as a result of a brain tumor. His writings ride the waves of the chemical impulses his brain produces, while at the same time expressing a heart after God and the lessons he has learned as he trusts God through his illness. I find myself in his writings sometimes–wrestling with the issues of my heart and the heaviness of my thoughts–struggling some days to make sense of it all, and rejoicing other days when the lesson is finally learned or understood. I find encouragement here. Another friend is a pastor, worship leader, musician, and artist who writes about the disciplines of being at home in our art and the way God has shaped us, while learning to receive our validation from Him alone. His blog is called “Adventures in Faith and Art”. Again, I find myself in his writings and find encouragement on the path as an artist.
Overall, I spend my life intertwining my stories with the stories of others. I look for ways to connect, to identify, to engage, and to be challenged. The Word of God is full of life stories of people like me. The “blog roll” of scripture is so diverse, yet if I take the time to read, I can find myself in almost every story–identifying with the fears, sins, joys, accomplishments, and mysteries of the people whose stories are recorded there. I can wrestle with the unknown future that Abraham had when he left his hometown to “look for a city whose builder and maker was God”. I can identify with the jealousies of Jacob who never seemed to be “good enough” and built his identity on deception, only to have God change his name and change his walk. I sing with David through his psalms, and bow in contrition and repentance like he did in his sin. I find encouragement here.
The difference in my “Blog Roll” and God’s Word is who is doing the reading. When I log onto a friend’s webpage I can read and associate with their stories. When I pick up God’s Word, it will begin to read me. Suddenly I am faced with words that don’t necessarily reflect me, but instead diagnose me and perform the surgery all at once. This of course has a lot to do with my cooperation. I could choose to simply be a Bible Reader. There are some great stories in there and amusing anecdotes, but if I am willing to submit myself to a book that is the inspired words of God, I am going to find out that the story isn’t about me or the characters as much as it is about God and His purposes. I am invited to join His story. I am invited to lay “under the knife” of this very skilled surgeon and allow God to begin to cut away what does not belong in my heart.
I love blogging because it puts me in “conversation” with others on the journey and that is important. I love reading other’s blogs and listening to their stories because I find wisdom and inspiration there. We need the encouragement of one another. And as much as I love encouraging others, I know that the words that have power to change are God’s Words and God’s alone.
Hebrews 4:12-13 (New International Version)
12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
Colossians 3:16 (New International Version)
16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.
Read. Engage in conversation. Live in relationship with others and allow the Word of God to read your life. That is my encouragement to you.