We were so excited! We were going to go scuba diving for the first time in our lives. The location was world renown: Poor Knights Island in New Zealand, an area swarming with beautiful fish and ocean life.
To prepare ourselves we bought a couple of disposable underwater cameras. We wanted to remember this once in a lifetime experience! Now they tend to pack these things with air-tight aluminum, just like pop-tarts, and we weren’t supposed to open them until just before we were ready for the dive. As a result, we didn’t have the chance to figure out how to use them ahead of time. But how difficult can it be? All cameras have a button, and once triggered by the means of a finger, they will take the desired picture!
Or are there some exceptions?
Once in the water with these unknown devices, I peered at the gadget through fog-filled goggles, trying to locate the button. Yes, I know goggles are not supposed to fog up, and believe me, I spit in them and washed them with seawater numerous times (which is, allegedly, the only way to keep goggles from fogging up), but to no avail. Maybe something was wrong with my saliva?
But the operation of the little plastic picture-taking device in my hand was what held my full attention. “Where is that button?” I thought. “It must be this one, I can’t see any others!” Of course, it’s not too hard to not be able to see any other button when you can’t see through your goggles …
While fiddling with the camera, numerous beautiful fishes swam by in perfect poses. They must have wondered what my problem was, what was preventing me from taking their picture …
And then I was sure I had it all figured out, and off I went taking prize pictures. I pressed that button over and over again, capturing hundreds of the ocean’s best on my film.
Or so I thought.
I would only later discover that I hadn’t really been pushing the right button at all! All of our pictures turned out blank! Grrrr! Hey, I could pretend that the fog in my goggles was infesting the entire ocean … But all joking aside, the cameras were useless to us because we had no idea how to use them.
Our diving instructor knew how to use them, however. The two or three pictures he snapped of my wife and myself turned out just fine!
This experience reminded me of the first time I got hold of a Bible. Then too, I had no idea how to use it and for many years, reading it was a chore. At that time I was attending a legalistic church that promoted a God of doctrines and we were encouraged to read our Bibles according to their doctrines. Believe me, I couldn’t make heads or tails out of the book, and frankly, I found it quite boring.
The Bible truly became God’s Word to me the day I invited God’s Spirit into my heart. Suddenly the Bible started to not only make sense, but became alive as well! It addressed me personally, with whatever I was experiencing at the time!
I couldn’t agree more with the apostle Paul when He wrote, under the direction of God’s Holy Spirit: “For the word of God is living 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.” (Heb 4:12 NIV)
It sure made sense when I realized that the author of the Bible was God’s Spirit Himself. Who better than God to explain this fascinating book, filled with messages addressed not only to me personally, but to anyone who reads it!
“Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another – showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way.” (2 Tim 3:16 The Message)
“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.” (John 16:13 NIV)
“You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” (John 5:39-40 NIV)
In the past I read the Bible with my own understanding, and I read it with the understanding of the church I attended. And as a result, it didn’t make sense. But our God is not a God of doctrine. He is a God who loves us so dearly that He fashioned His written Word in such a way that it addresses us personally every time we open it.
Now His Word has become so precious that I can’t help savour it whenever I can. I fall on my knees and lift my hands up in heaven in utter adoration to the One who cares so much to me that He took the time to write me personal love letters. He is so awesome!
This God of mine wants to be your friend as well and He loves you madly enough to have willingly died on a cross for you.
I didn’t know how to trigger God’s Word before, but now that God’s Spirit lives in me, this book is beyond fascinating. It has truly become: “… a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” (Ps 119:105 NIV)
My foggy pictures really didn’t look all that bad … But how I wished for some of that stunning ocean I remembered seeing through my fogged goggles to be visible …
(To access the entire “The Heart of the Matter” devotional series, please click here.)