Word Feast

Your words are what sustain me; they are food to my hungry soul. They bring joy to my sorrowing heart and delight me. How proud I am to bear your name, O Lord. – Jeremiah 15:15 (LB)

It was just after 7:00pm on a Tuesday night when our home telephone rang. As a high school junior I hoped that every phone call was for me and so I ran to pick it up. I very quickly wished I hadn’t. It was my English teacher on the phone, a guy ironically named Mr. Wright. I really liked Mr. Wright but when he told me to get my parents on the phone I suddenly felt sick to my stomach. There’s really only one reason your high school English teacher calls your home to talk to your parents on a Tuesday night at 7:00pm. I had obviously done something so unbelievably awful that it mandated a call at home, but for the life of me I couldn’t think of what it was I had done.

What happened next changed my life. When my parents got on the other line Mr. Wright proceeded to read aloud a short essay I’d written the week before. When he finished he said to my parents, “I thought that essay was outstanding. Your son has a gift for writing. I just thought you’d like to know.” Can you imagine the impact of those words on a high school boy who was struggling with his self-esteem? Mark Twain once said, “I can live for two month on a good compliment.” I’ve lived a lot longer than that on Mr. Wright’s words. I love to write today, in part because of that phone call on a Tuesday night in 1977.

Words have that kind of power. Words have power to breathe life into us, or suck the life right out of us. Words have the power to build up or to tear down, to bless or to curse. Or, as Hogwart’s Headmaster Albus Dumbledore put it, “Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury and remedying it.”

And in my experience, the most powerful and soul-filling word I’ve ever encountered is God’s Word. Scripture tells me the truth about myself and my humanity – the unvarnished truth about how broken I am and how loved I am. And to be honest, it’s the love part that impacts me most. I’m painfully aware of my brokenness, and like you I have a little voice in my head that seems determined to convince me that I’m hopeless, worthless, unloved and unlovable. I come back to Scripture over and over again to hear this life-giving truth: I am loved unconditionally. Scripture’s power is that it points us to God’s Living Word, Jesus, through whom we know the depth of God’s unfailing love for us.

I know that many people find the Bible befuddling. I do, too, some days! Let me point you to three resources that might help.

  1. Get into a Bible Study where questions are welcome, honest doubts affirmed and divergent opinions are accepted. Try a small group. If you’re local, join us at the weekly Engage Bible Study. You’ll find more information here.
  2. Develop a daily devotional habit. You’ll find a great resource list here.
  3. Read Rob Bell’s book, “What Is the Bible”. Bell does a great of inspiring excitement for Scripture while untangling some of the knots that tend to bind us. You can purchase a copy here.

I confess – I love to read. Reading has fed my mind and my heart from a very young age. But nothing feeds my soul like Scripture. Tuck in, and let it feed your soul too.

Jeff Marian serves as lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church

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