For the last couple of years Oceans Ministries has donated Bibles to local prisoners in Lesotho Africa. Unfortunately Bibles are a rare commodity for those who find themselves behind bars and yet, the Bible is the most sought after book by the inmates. One of the deliveries of God’s Word was to a dark and damp cinder block room filled with women of all ages. The women were alerted that we were coming with Bibles in hand and with just the very thought of the gift about to be delivered-the drab place was ignited with exuberant songs of joy accompanied with dancing. These inmates passion for God’s Word was humbling and caused me to examine my heart and survey my own response to the Living Word of my Father. Do I dance and sing with the words of Scripture? I have my favorite Bible and an entire bookshelf of various translations as well as study guides and commentaries.
The ladies in the prison rejoiced with a truth that I often take for granted. This rather plain looking Black Book when opened up and read with the inspiring work of the Holy Spirit has the power to transform a life from darkness to light AND set the world “on fire with heaven’s love.”
This day in an African prison caused me to reflect on my years in seminary where much of the budget was allocated for books and much time dedicated to reading hundreds of those books about the Bible. Yet, many times I found myself so busy grasping what others had to say about the Bible that personal reading and study of God’s Word was neglected. But I am thankful that one book in particular reminded me that I needed to KNOW God’s Word within my own heart and soul.
George Mueller’s words of wisdom revived my soul which was becoming like dead leaves on a dying tree:
Learned commentaries I have found to store the head with many notions and often also with the truth of God; but when the Spirit teaches, through the instrumentality of prayer and meditation, the heart is affected. The former kind of knowledge generally puffs up, and is often renounced, when another commentary gives a different opinion, and often also is found good for nothing, when it is to be carried out into practice. The latter kind of knowledge generally humbles, gives joy, and leads us nearer to God and is not easy reasoned away; and having been obtained from God, and thus having entered into the heart, and become our own, it is always so generally carried out.
(George Mueller, Man of Faith, p.44-45).
Mueller, who lived in the 1800’s and the dancing women in prison, KNOW the powerful gift that the Word of God alone is to those who read it, ingest it, and ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate this love letter from our Heavenly Father. On October 31, 2017 we celebrate the 500th Birthday of the Reformation, where the Holy Spirit spoke to the Father’s children and said “Return to the Book of books and find abundant life!”
Oh how we need to hear the Spirit say these words in our day as well. Our social media frenzy has left us angry, empty, and half crazy. We need to return to the Book of books and start singing with joy and dancing in the Spirit for the gift of God’s Holy love letter to His children!