Surely…

Surely……This word rings out loud and clear for me from the 23rd Psalm. And there is more: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” But it is the word surely that has resonated with me over the last year or so of my life. I had memorized the whole Psalm when I was a child and can quote it still in its entirety. But…..Surely, Surely, this is something I can count on—goodness and mercy and dwelling in the house of the Lord.

There are other verses in the Bible that I treasure above all others. I love the Parable of the Prodigal Son[Luke 15:11ff] and what it tells me about God’s love and forgiveness, his celebration of our return without reproof! His invitation to the other brother to enjoy the bounty, too. It’s an amazing statement of love, unmatched love found nowhere else but in God.

I love Galatians 5:23, the fruit of the Spirit: love, peace, joy, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. I see these fruit as the gift of a deep relationship with God, the lingua franca or common language of the kingdom.

I was surprised a few years back to find that I love the Exodus story which covers five books of the Bible. I never thought I would find myself knee-deep in Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus and Deuteronomy, much less writing a book about them. I think I have so often relegated the Old Testament to the deep past, the irrelevant past which cannot speak to us modern people. But its graphic language and descriptions of the difficulties in the wilderness, the rebelliousness of the Israelites and even God’s punishments for various rebellions—the very human drama played against the wilderness with God so dramatically present—all of these are the things that intrigue me still.

The Bible is a treasure-trove of poetry and metaphor and direct teachings. It is the story of man and God—the inconstancy of mankind and the faithfulness of God. Most of all I love to read about the life of Jesus. Of his healings and compassion, his help of all kinds to people in extreme places in their lives, his asking, “what do you want?” His condemning the Pharisees for the way they pretty themselves up to look good. And not condemning the prostitute. His talking to women, a taboo in his day, to Samaritans, to Romans, to Jews. He broke the Sabbath rules that the Pharisees lived by, but only to help someone, to feed another, to heal someone. He lived what he taught.

He spent time with the marginalized, the lame, blind, deaf. He knew the tax collectors and the prostitutes. He dined at Pharisee houses, but still challenged them about the law and other people. He spent regular time with God. He went off by himself, alone with God. And he called everyone he met to meet God and to worship him.

Most of all I appreciate his humanity displayed in Gethsemane and on the cross. In the garden he bargains for a while with God: “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” [Matthew 26:39ff] Three times he offers this prayer. And then goes along with the Roman Soldiers when they come for him. And on the cross he cries out, “My God, My God why have you forsaken me?” [Matthew 27:46] And then he gave up his spirit to God. These two stories of Jesus show him at his most human.

What are the verses or stories in the Bible that sustain you? That remind you most of God? What words ring in your ears? The challenge is beyond knowing them, to have them be such a part of your being that they are evident in how you live your life. They define your faith. They inspire hope. They carry us when we can’t carry our own burdens. They are food for our mind and heart, body and spirit all at the same time. Thanks be to God!

The Bible is a rich resource for those of us who would know God. And then there is the relationship with God, in which we build up a body of personal experiences of God, of direct knowledge of God and his ways, of what he proposes for us and how he would have us be, of the healing work he does in each of us as we open ourselves to him. With the Bible and our own personal knowledge of God, plus with our faith and trust in him, we are the house built on rock, secure always in the arms of God. Nothing, not one fearful thing, would tempt us to not follow God wherever he would lead us.

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Questions to ponder over the week: What Bible verses sustain you through the tough times? Is there a letter or a Gospel or Old Testament Book that you turn to often? Who in the Bible do you look to for wisdom, for solace, support, love? Who is your favorite author?

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Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who can not only quote Scripture, but also live it. May we be true followers of Christ, learning to be in the Mind of Christ. May we be a blessing wherever we go, to whomever we are with.

 

News from By the Waters:
All five of the videos about the Exodus story are up on YouTube, plus two more. Here are the url’s to access them:
Part I: www.youtube.com/watch?v=TKfouN0PNH0
Part II: www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyvRsnqYrdg
Part IIIa: www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZU32Y09UN8
Part IIIb: www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHqKay89kjE
Part IV: www.youtube.com/watch?v=84z7KF_uv7Q
God’s Invitation, www.youtube.com/watch?v=IOkp_-wDKFo
The Heart of the Gospel, www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJJbPKSOACc

My book, “Thy Kingdom Come!”, is up on Amazon in both paperback and kindle versions. Look under Patricia Said Adams.

 

 

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