A few years ago I was invited to speak at a women’s conference in my hometown in Southern California. Since my family relocated to Alabama a few weeks after I graduated from high school, it had been decades since I’d been in that town. I arrived a bit early to visit with family, catch coffee with a few high school friends, and wander around my old stomping grounds. It was an extremely emotional trip for me as I remembered the girl who grew up in that town and all God has done for her since then.
The conference was hosted at a church just a few miles from where I attended high school. During the break on Saturday, I drove my rental car over to the school campus so I could walk around campus a bit. It’s a small private school, and it was basically the same as I remembered it, with a few additions. The same small chapel stood where I used to hear God’s Word taught every Friday. The same beige lockers lined the outdoor hall of the high school wing. The same left-behind sweaters, assignments, and notebooks were strewn about, cluttering the hall. As I walked the hall, smiling as the memories flooded over me, one locker stopped me in my tracks.
On top of that locker was a Bible.
Scribbled on and dog-eared.
Pages torn and spine destroyed.
Abandoned until Monday.
Awaiting to be flippantly thrown into a backpack and brought to Bible class.
It looked just like mine had when I was there. It was being treated just like mine had been. And, most likely, the owner of that Bible lacks a love for their Bible just as I did. For so long I saw the Bible as just another textbook. A chore. A roadblock. A burden of guilt. As I type, I am weeping at the memory—that I ever had such a casual distain for the Word of God, that I forfeited so much time with Him and took on so much trouble without Him when I could have been enjoying the benefits of being a Happy Soul. Deep down, I had been re-named a Happy Soul. I could feel it. I knew there had to be something more but I had no idea how to obtain it. I didn’t know how to enact change. My view of God was off. I could follow the do’s and don’ts, but I didn’t know how to get closer to God himself. And I certainly didn’t love God’s Word.
We’ve all been there, haven’t we? Perhaps you are there right now. Your Bible may not be as physically neglected as the one I saw that Saturday afternoon, but it is neglected nonetheless. It gathers dust on a shelf, sits on the floorboard of your car throughout the week, or is lost somewhere in your bedroom. Or perhaps you are opening your Bible but are just going through the motions. You read. You check “read Bible” off your list. You close your Bible. You keep walking. There’s no attachment to the Word of God. No true closeness to God. There’s no awe and wonder. There’s no overwhelming love and feelings of delight. You’d rather be enjoying the next Netflix episode or clinging to your Facebook feed instead of spending time with God through His Word.
… Most of us don’t have a delighting problem. We delight in and enjoy many things just fine. God has created us for pleasure. Just think about it. God created our bodies to enjoy things! Eating food is primarily about keeping alive, yet we’ve been given taste buds and a variety of sweet and savory food to eat. Functionally speaking, sex is about keeping the human race going, yet God has wired male and female bodies to enjoy one another. There is no room for doubt: God created us to experience deep delight.
… Jesus made this clear in a conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well. We don’t know her name, but we know that Jesus saw her at the well and knew her emptiness. It is likely that she’d been mistreated and cast aside most her life. As Jesus pursued her broken heart, he chatted with her about the well water: “Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again. In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up in him for eternal life” (John 4:13–14). Not long after this encounter, while addressing the crowds of people, Jesus claimed, “I am the bread of life . . . No one who comes to me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in me will ever be thirsty again” (John 6:35). Jesus taught that only He could satisfy our deepest desires. And the Bible shows us how to come to Jesus with our cravings. “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water’” (John 7:37–38 ESV).
Our salvation brings a quenching to our soul that we will enjoy for eternity. But as we pursue to work out our salvation—as we resolve to make our internal identity become an external reality—we have to keep drawing from the well of the Word, which grants us the way to the One who can satisfy our souls. God’s Word gives us perspective, instructions, and parameters needed to navigate this sin-stained world. It is our protection. Our hope. Our guide. Our grace.
I have your decrees as a heritage forever;
indeed, they are the joy of my heart.
I am resolved to obey your statutes
to the very end. — Psalm 119:111–112
This is an excerpt from my book, Secrets of the Happy Soul.