Opinion

There’s a place to find answers to life’s great questions

FAITHFUL LIVING

The name of the Lord is a strong tower;

the righteous run to it and are safe.

— Proverbs 18:10

When I was a young teenager, beginning to ponder life’s great questions and engaging in group activities like building 6-foot-long banana splits and camping on California’s Catalina Island, I joined the youth group at a local church.

There I met the youth pastor, a brilliant thinker and speaker who introduced two great truths that I continue to contemplate into middle age. The first: There is so much to learn about the character of God people will spend a lifetime searching to know more.

The second: God will reveal himself, not only through the life of Christ, historical events and daily experiences, but also through the Bible — which at first glance looked to me to be a boring and tedious set of histories and rules.

Our youth pastor promised something different, however. He said if we grabbed hold of our Bibles and read them daily, God would actively reveal himself and we would come to view scripture as a living document. Through ancient words, God would give us strength, challenge our current streams of thought and give us peace when our hearts felt mortally wounded.

Ancient words also would begin the process of binding our hearts with his. We would connect through prayer and a surprisingly personal relationship would develop.

On New Year’s Day, I recommitted to reading the Bible on a daily basis. These days one can open a favorite Bible or visit www.BibleGateway.com. This amazing Web site offers a daily reading program that will take you through the Bible in one year and gives you the option to tackle such a project in four ways: an Old and New Testament selection daily, chronological readings, readings that start from the beginning and move forward or readings that move you through the Bible in historical order. You also can choose to read from 20 English Bible versions!

I long for balance and reading the Bible is one of the routines I plan to incorporate into my daily activities in 2009. On Monday, God reminded me he is a tall tower. Not only that, but if I wish to be counted among the righteous (to be considered “good” and characterized by my faith and devotion), I will run toward his great tower in confidence. It is mighty and capable of withstanding any onslaught, any attack.

The irony of that visual will stay with me as poignantly as will my mental images of that second airliner hitting World Trade Center tower two, causing a stampede of innocent people to flee in complete terror eight years ago.

How many times have I skimmed over that passage, understanding the visual, but not particularly relating to it? I believe these words, found in Proverbs, are meant to shock us as well as soothe our hearts. We are reminded that the many things we have incorporated into our lives, which seem to build upon our sense of protection and security, need to be re-evaluated. When we want to flee, we might need to run back, instead.

When we want to question God’s compassion, his power and his interest in our welfare, we must not run from him out of anger, but run to him with the hope of learning more and growing in ways yet to be understood.

God has certainly captured my attention. What I am seeing him do is remind me that when I worry about issues like nation economic crisis or Middle East conflict and instability, I am to look intently into his face for peace and explanation. I am to look to him for ways to counteract my fears.

A look into the Old Testament of the Bible reveals a number of slightly differing names for God, each hyphenated to specifically reveal a different aspect of his character. I am particularly fond of Jehovah-shalom: God is peace. When I think about God as a peacemaker, it reminds me that his love for peace should encourage me to serve as a peacemaker in my home and workplace.

Jehovah-shalom also reminds me that moving into his presence (during a quiet walk, while praying or painting or sewing a quilt, chopping wood, kneading bread, cooking or creating a scrapbook) has the potential to offer each one of us an experience of blessed peace because we have invited him to be there. We are moving his direction and learning to hang on his every word.

Joan Bay Klope is a freelance writer and speaker who makes her home on Whidbey Island. Her award-winning column has run for 12 years in Western Washington newspapers. E-mail comments and speaking requests to faithfulliving@hotmail.com.

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