You know the look in a child’s eyes when they get it, when something clicks, when a connection is made? It’s as if a spark lights up their little eyes and faces? One of the greatest treats of having our children home from school these last weeks is getting to witness moments like this throughout the day. I’ve seen this spark as my little one mastered the “taking off” part of his bicycling attempts. I’ve seen this spark in my middle schooler when all of the sudden the volume of a cylinder made sense and became more than letters in an equation. I’ve seen it when they watched the pure white marshmallow disappear from the Resurrection Rolls we baked a week late, recalling the mystery and miracle of their Savior’s Resurrection. The spark lighting up their faces then lights up mine.
Do you need a spark of your own today? Something to bring light and life to your countenance? Let’s consider together an old, old true story from God’s Word and see how it is relevant and applicable to our lives today, even in (and especially in) quarantine. In Nehemiah 8, God’s people were beaten down. Discouraged. Defeated. Overwhelmed. As Ezra, the priest, read the words of the law to them, the people reverently bowed to the Lord and wept. In verse 10, Nehemiah makes this beautiful, life-giving declaration, “Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Verse 12 records the people’s response, “All the people went away to eat, to drink, to send portions and to celebrate a great festival, because they understood the words which had been made known to them.” The faces of God’s people went from darkened to sparkling upon hearing and understanding the Word of God! God’s Words delivered God’s joy in this old, old true story and God’s Words deliver God’s joy today for me and for you!
Joy is infectious outwardly and permeating inwardly. Joy consumes us. Wouldn’t you rather be consumed by joy right now than any of the other options floating around? Nehemiah reminds us of our access to this life-giving, perspective-altering joy (remember God’s people went from mourning and weeping to dancing and feasting!) – it’s found is the hearing, reading and understanding of the Bible! When you are tempted to think the Bible is made up of old words, inapplicable and hard to understand, I’m here to encourage you otherwise! The Bible gives new life, clearer perspective, and deeper understanding of God – all things we all need at all times!
The good news is we are poised so beautifully to receive his Word right now. Don’t fall for the lie that you are unqualified, ill-equipped, or unprepared. If you don’t have a Bible on your shelf or bedside table, download the YouVersion or the ESV Bible. If you don’t belong to a Bible-reading, Bible-preaching church, every single one is streaming their services every Sunday. If you are hesitant to begin reading on your own, ask a friend who has modeled a habit of Scripture reading to read along with you. I guarantee they will not turn you down.
The good news today is that the Good News brings life, light, joy and strength. It doesn’t mean all of the hardships go away, but the Word carefully turns our gaze to the one holding us firmly in his grip all the while. As we read and understand (a gift of the Spirit), his joy will sink in and our faces will light up. Don’t ignore it, friends. Embrace it. And, let us join those in the Gospel of Luke who “said to each other, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?’” Amen and Amen. Luke 24:32