I knew a pastor once whose congregation would scream and yell when he would open the Bible, celebrating, with eager anticipation, what the Word of God would tell them.
I have never opened my Bible with eager anticipation. Instead, I dread my time in the Bible. I often find myself reading just to say I did it, comprehension thrown out the window. I let the phrases of condemnation pile on me as fresh wood on a fire and quickly move over the truth that should set me free. I choose this cage of guilt and shame each day as I contemplate the eight Bibles that reside in my home. Each a different version, a different view of His word. All motionless and unread. I take for granted the ease with which I pull this Sword out in times of crisis, and I leave it to rust in the scabbard in times of peace.
Recently while I watched one of my favorite movies, "Luther,” a scene showed the eager anticipation to read the Bible I long for. Martin Luther was the first person to translate the Bible into German so that the common people could read it. The Pope then put a price on his head and excommunicated him from the Catholic Church. Prior to his translation, the Word of God was only read in Latin, and only read by a priest. After years of labor to produce the Bible in the German language, Luther approaches his prince with the first copy as a gift. During Luther’s conflict with the church, his prince has risked his own life to protect Luther. They talk for a while since they have never actually met; during the conversation Luther is holding the Bible. The prince waits eagerly, yet patiently, for his gift. Finally the prince can contain it no more and asks for his present. A smile spreads across Luther’s face, and he hands the Bible to the prince. With trepidation, the prince takes a deep breath and opens the Bible.
In the movie, the scene ends, and the story progresses. Last night I paused and tried to imagine what the prince felt in that moment. Think about it: you are in your 40’s, your entire life you have only heard His Word through someone else’s mouth, and someone hands you the very Word of God in your own language. Can you taste the excitement as he drools over time that he will spend in the text? Can you envision the anticipation to hear the words of God as if spoken from a Father instead of an unapproachable deity. God is now present, and the prince can commune with him anytime he wishes.
For now, my many Bibles sit on the shelf collecting dust; they call for me to open them, to dive in, and to drown in His Word. I can imagine the power that is at my very fingertips. Power left untapped because I choose to remain in the shadow of death instead of the light of grace.
In Ephesians, Paul describes the Word as a sword. The Sword is constantly at my fingertips, but am I able to wield it?