After writing The Scriptures According To Tinker Bell, I started thinking about my own relationship with the Bible. Once again, I am hoping that no one will take this blog post as blasphemous or disrespectful. I am in no way comparing myself to the godly Hall of Famers that God chose to transcribe His Holy words. I just think that, for the scriptures to live, we all need to integrate them into our own experience. In doing so, we open the door for God to create very specific, personal guidance in each of our hearts.
Over this past year, I have been bumping along on my way down a rougher, less developed expanse of my spiritual road than I am used to navigating. My initial impulse is to say that I have “struggled” with faith. Upon reflection, I realized that perspective is blatantly inaccurate. I would use the word “grown” instead of the word “struggled.” Growth spurts are usually uncomfortable. They have the capacity to make us feel less capable, less grounded, and less confident. That is what the last year has been like for me. On the other hand, growth spurts also have the capacity to make us stronger, more powerful, and more steadfast.
Recently, my church presented a “spiritual gifts inventory” as part of our annual parish stewardship dinner. As I scored my inventory, I found some predictable conclusions. There were a few surprises, however. I scored rather low in the “faith” category of spiritual gifts. This gave me pause because most of the people in my life think of me as a faithful person- not just in the sense of being loyal in my relationships, but in the sense of having spiritual trust and maturity. I rarely perceive in myself the godly faithfulness others say they see in me. I have always prioritized faith development in my life and tried to grow in my relationship with God. I guess I’ve always felt that, if I intentionally tried to grow spiritually, my efforts would result in a stronger, deeper, more secure faith.
It seems that faith development takes more than just being intentional.
The reason for my lower “faith score” is likely my habitual inclination towards worry. All of my life, I have struggled with self-doubt and incessant, unreasonable worrying. It is hard to reconcile my irrational fears, overthinking, and over-the-top preparing with my professed faith in an all-powerful, all-loving God. Someone once said that faith is the opposite of fear. The Bible tells us repeatedly not to be afraid, but to trust in the providence of God. I want to integrate all of these admonitions into my very soul but worry still wins out a good percentage of the time.
In grappling with this problem of mine, I’ve tried many different strategies. Undoing a lifetime of hard-wired anxiety is not easy. I remember composing a memo from God that I posted on my office tack board. It said:
To: All humankind
From: The Sovereign God and Creator of the Universe
Effective immediately, you are to stop worrying. Additionally, you are to stop trying to control the world. That’s my job.
It was good to have a visual reminder. I think it helped. I doubt anyone who ever worked with me would agree that it helped at all. I am a very talented worrier. Worrying was my brand. Again, not really congruent with my profession that I am a Christian believer who places her faith in God.
I am beginning to realize that to grow faith, one must actually step out in faith. Talking is not enough. Intellectualizing is not enough. Action and practice are necessary.
Over the past year or so, I have been trying to take that step out in faith by acting rather than just mouthing platitudes. It has not been easy, and I have encountered resistance. I decided I wanted another visual reminder to encourage me. Psalm 46:10 tells us, “Be still and know that I am God.” This, I thought, is the perfect verse for me. I decided to search Etsy to see if there were any rock-painting artists who offered small rocks with customized designs. Writing the whole verse on a rock seemed like too much to fit, but I thought I could get one with Psalm 46:10 written on it. I found someone who did this work, and I promptly ordered my rock right there on my cell phone.
My rock appeared a few days later. I was so pleased. It had a little picture of a flower on one side and the Scripture citation on the other. I slipped it into my change purse and made a habit of looking at it whenever I pulled out some cash.
One day, I was writing an email and wanted to quote my comforting Scripture verse. Because I have never been very good at memorizing Bible verses, I could not recall the citation. My purse was handy, so I pulled out my rock. As I began typing the Scripture reference, something just felt wrong. I decided to check the verse on my phone. Apparently, because of my haste when I ordered the rock and because of my clumsy fat fingers, I erred when I typed in the particulars for my order on Etsy. Instead of “Psalm 46:10,” I inadvertently ordered “Psalm 46:19.”
Psalm 46:19 does not exist.
At first, I felt deflated and inadequate. How could I mess up like that? How could I be so disrespectful of God’s holy word? I did not even want to order another rock with the correct citation on it. I actually felt ashamed and embarrassed.
Then, I realized something. I made a mistake, but I had only good intentions. God could use that mistake for good (Romans 8:28.) I started thinking about what God might want me to know. Maybe Psalm 46:19, although not in anyone else’s Bible, is a verse God is trying to inscribe on my heart. What would God say to me, if He was going to offer a new Scripture verse just for me and for my struggle with worrying and self-doubt?
After some prayerful reflection, I came up with this:
I am a precious child of God and I bring joy to the world. I can trust that He has created me elegantly and equipped me perfectly to live the life He sets before me.
God does not make mistakes and He uses even our mistakes to work for the benefit of those who love Him. Maybe everyone could use a mistake as an opportunity to consider what God’s private Scripture for each of us might be.
If God wrote a Scripture verse just for you, what would it say? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a faithful day!