As I left work last night I marveled at the pink and lavender sky as the sun began its descent along the horizon. It had been a pretty good day. I mean, it had been a long day. Thirteen hours on your feet never felt short, and looking at a step-counter on my phone, I had walked a few miles to boot. The patients had been challenging, and I felt a dull throb in my lower back from lifting, pulling, and holding two times my body weight every two hours throughout the day. But still, it had been a pretty good day.
“Thank you for a good day, Lord,” I spoke out loud.
I smiled. Despite the full, long day, despite the weariness around the edges, I felt good. I felt joy. There was a difference between happiness and joy. Happiness was dependent on your situation. The day before I had been very happy while I floated in the pool, but as I made the drive home, feet tired and brain frazzled, I felt that river of contentment flowing through my being.
What made life like this? I wondered.
And just as quickly I thought, the fruit of the spirit.
It seemed to permeate most of my day. It had changed how I interacted with coworkers, patients, a stranger in line at the store, my spouse, and everyone in between. It had changed me. I had not always been so patient or even so kind. I had not always been loving, and I certainly wasn’t the epitome of self-control. Even now, I am the furthest from perfect as anyone can be, but I have seen myself grow over the past few years. And because of such, my life has improved dramatically.
I know why, and I saw something run across the news lately that especially brought this to the forefront of my mind. One huge decision I had made in my life had flipped it upside down, which honestly meant it was right side up. Isn’t it funny how what the world tells us is correct, nine times out of ten, that’s just not true? I discovered real truth is only found in one place, but I’m astounded by how many don’t even consider it as important. I mean, they know it is, but knowing and doing are two different things entirely.
The national news story that I came across happened to have occurred less than fifteen minutes from the town I grew up in, and though I no longer lived there, it made me sad to see such horrible happenings become attached to my hometown. It was disappointing but not altogether surprising. I had been raised there, after all, and I could recall hearing the same thing from some people in the small, Southern Baptist church that I had entered my teenage years attending, but had never returned to after college.
It seems that a woman was caught on video denying wedding services to another woman because the couple to be wed were an interracial couple. You can catch details of the story here, but to sum it up the owner of the establishment stated they were denying their services due to their “Christian” beliefs that interracial marriage was a sin. In other words, she was implying God was against mixing races, and was quoted as saying she “wasn’t going to argue her beliefs.”
I must say I was pleased with the majority response from friends in the area. They were appalled by the situation, and some very strong-worded about it. A few others offered grace, and it was through such a source that I saw a personal response on the owner’s Facebook page a few days later. I have to give the woman applause for admitting she was wrong, and while I in no way condone or approve of her opinion, I do think it was very good for her to publicly admit her fault.
In her public apology, she confessed that she had always assumed this particular instance (interracial relationships) to be mentioned in scripture, but at her husband’s prodding she had found it was not. After studying her Bible and seeking Godly counsel from her pastor, she realized her long-held “belief” was strictly passed down intolerance. Nowhere in the Bible did it claim this to be a sin, but since she had been raised by other humans to believe it was, that became her truth.
And that’s where our problems lies, ladies and gentleman. We are a generation of busy Christians, Christians much too hurried to have time for the Bible. We assume Sunday is enough, flipping rapidly through whatever verse the preacher reads out loud, forgetting that the man on the pulpit is also just a man. We forget that we must glean the scriptures ourselves for God’s truth, that per His instruction we must meditate on it day and night.
What happens instead is that we start accepting the world’s truth as God’s truth. We think success is found through possessions, that healing just through the hospital. We lose sight of who God is, that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. So we assume miracles are something from Old Testament Times, and that now it’s up to us to make our own way.
What happens is we push people away from Jesus. We’re so busy relying on man-made and mankind adapted rules and religious, pharisaical dos and don’ts that we lose sight of truth. We forget the greatest command of them all because we aren’t daily submerged in God’s Word! We remember how to play church, but we forget how to love!
What happens is we become depressed and anxious. We worry about things we can’t control. We look at man to save us! Bail me out of this jam, loan man. We stay up all night long trying to figure out how to solve our dilemmas. Meanwhile, God is just waiting for us to ask. Maybe we get overweight or we develop a problem with drinking, gambling, pornography. We’re just so lonely, empty, and hopeless, and we search all over for something to fill the vacant places. Never once do we crack the Bible to find the answers there.
Hard day at work? Let’s go get a drink! That’ll fix it. Smh. Hey, I’ve been there. No judgment here. All I know, from personal experience, is that the next morning my head hurt and my problem still existed. It wasn’t until I read the Bible and learned how to view my job that work no longer sucked. Just being honest.
See, what happens is we think babies in the womb aren’t a life until they get on the outside, like maybe a hotdog in the package isn’t food until we finish cooking it on the grill and throw it in a bun. Hey, my three-year-old holding a cold wiener straight from the pack may disagree, but I’ve heard crazier things.
I’ve heard that you can fill your mind with horrific images via movies or your music, without any consequences to your spirit. I’ve heard you can ask for good vibes on Facebook while consulting your psychic and get your grandma to pray to Jesus for you all at the same time. You really want to cover all the bases for best results. It’s okay to lie if no one finds out, and cussing out someone on the freeway is fine and dandy. Oh, and you don’t really have to give 10% in the offering plate anymore if you need the money for something else. I mean, who do you think provides for us? Us, of course!
So what happens is we end up thinking we don’t need God every day. We drift along happily with our fancy life, planning our parties and running up our credit card bills for more stuff we don’t need. But then when our child gets really sick we cry out to Jesus.
Oh, Jesus, why won’t you answer me?!
Give Him a minute. Maybe He’s trying to place your voice. After all, He hasn’t heard it in six months.
What happens is we believe lies from Satan. We don’t think they’re from Satan. We don’t even really think about him. He’s mentioned somewhere in the Bible, but the preacher only mentions the devil when he talks about Hell, and you’re not going there. You’re saved by the blood of Jesus. You’re a Christian. Your youth leader told you so! What happens is we become Christian only in title; we lose sight of living like one. We forget that to be a Christian is to be a follower of Christ, and to follow the ways of Jesus you have to read what He said, what He did, what He sacrificed for you. You have to be brought to literal tears when you read how much He gave so that you could live! But instead, we spend our time binging Netflix and crying over our latest romance novel.
You know what? I love me some Netflix. I won’t deny it. But nothing comes before the truth. Nothing.
To walk in freedom, to bear the fruits of the spirit, and to lead a joyful, hopeful, wonderful life that is lacking no thing we must read the Bible! I know, I know. I too used to think that was just something people said. You think that praying is enough, that going to church on Sunday is enough, that wearing shirts with scripture on them is enough, that hanging out with other Christians is enough, that growing your hair long or being submerged in water just in itself is enough, that wearing a cross around your neck and flying the flag of Israel in your yard is enough (yeah, I saw the flag hanging next to it that evokes feelings of division and hate, but that’s a blog for another day). The point is, none of it is enough, and because this stuff can take the place of God’s Word in your life, it’s actually a lie straight from Hell. Your “salvation” is really your veil that covers your eyes, and it’s the stumbling block that makes others fall. Only in Spirit and Truth will we find the wholeness that God can provide. Listen, I’m not saying you’re going to Hell if you never read your Bible. There’s only one judge up in here. But I am saying that if you want to live a full, free, joyful life then you have to dig deeper. You have to read God’s Word.
How do I know this? I mean, besides scripture saying it’s so? I see it in my life. Over the past eight years I have been on a journey of growth with the Lord, and the biggest breakthrough began to occur when I submerged myself in the scriptures. I began to crave more of Him, and it filled me to read His Word. Over time the words of truth bled into my life and they transformed me. How I viewed myself, how I viewed others, and how I viewed the world all changed. I began to see everything through the eyes of Christ. But it wasn’t just that.
I found joy. True, lasting joy. I got rid of fear once and for all. I kicked anxiety to the curb. I learned how Jesus could help me deal with my depression. Of note, because I see feathers ruffling already, I take a medication to help with hormonal mood swings and depression. I am a nurse, after all, and I do believe God gave us the brains to develop healthcare, but I also know my Healer works in me in conjunction.
I’ve found my life is more fulfilling, my marriage is happier. Like, I fall in love with my husband more and more each day. Of note, he reads the Bible every day also. We do it together. God’s truth carries our marriage to places it could never go without Him. Our marriage is so successful because of Jesus, and knowing the Bible helps us know how to treat one another as Christ would.
Y’all, I could go on and on about how God’s Word fed into my life has changed everything for the better, but I know you don’t have all day. I don’t want you reading this much longer anyway. I want you reading your Bible!
The point is, you can belief what your family has always said, what your friends say, and what the world deceives you into believing. You can do this, still find salvation, but have a rough road until Jesus returns. Or… you can read His instruction manual now (because He told us in there what to do until He returns), and find some joy and contentment here on earth. Am I saying life is perfect if you read your Bible? Heck, no. But it sure is a lot easier with truth on your side. Plus, the side effects are phenomenal.