I'VE LOVED THE BIBLE for as long as I can remember. This was partly because I grew up in a Christian church that taught Bible stories in Sunday School. At home, no one talked about the Bible, and I don't recall seeing anyone read it, though I was given a copy when I asked for it. I was especially interested in the fact that Daniel, Jesus, and Paul were obviously close to God, and He was with them.
To me there was a promise in those stories that God was probably close to me, too. It was the probably part I couldn't get around, because I just didn't feel God's presence. But the promise part—that God might be close to me and actually care about me—never left me.
Growing up, I reasoned it must have been easy for the disciples to believe that their lives were governed by God because they actually saw Jesus heal. I wanted that same assurance. And I felt the Bible, not man-made doctrines, somehow had the answers.
My search was forwarded when I was immediately healed of an alarming attack of food poisoning as my husband read to me from Science and Health. I'd resisted reading the book before, but now I saw how it spoke of "the deep divinity of the Bible" (p. 546), a valuation that related to the promise I'd felt as a child.
Then a friend explained how when she needed direction in her life or help in healing, she opened the Bible for God's specific messages to her. She'd been encouraged by the first of the religious tenets of Christian Science, which says that Christian Scientists take "the inspired Word of the Bible" as their "sufficient guide to eternal Life" (ibid., p. 497).
Would this be an answer to my yearning for assurance like the disciples received from Jesus? I wondered. It made sense that thoughts from God came directly to the consciousness of each one of us. So I began to pray daily that I would recognize God's messages, however they might come.
CONSCIOUSLY LISTENING FOR MESSAGES GOD AS WE STUDY THE BIBLE ENCOURAGES DISCIPLESHIP.
The result was increasingly receiving Bible answers that seemed direct. What do those specific answers do for me? The inspiration of their directness to my prayer always assures me of my present relationship to God and makes for a speedier spiritualization of my thinking. And the natural correlative of more spiritually based thinking is a speedier resolution to problems. The immediacy and specificity of those messages help me challenge what isn't Godlike and God-made. They support a quicker choice for unlimited action, clarity, and physical healing.
An early example of turning to the Bible for such messages occurred when we were wheat farmers in southern Kansas. One evening, the second of two huge storms was approaching, threatening to destroy everyone's harvest and livelihood for the year ahead. My husband and I stood outside with our neighbors fearfully watching it come, mesmerized by the threat. The storm that evening shattered and downed the wheat crop in the region.
Clearly, it was time for some Bible-based prayer that would strengthen my conviction that God was the only power. I opened my Bible and came upon the line "At destruction and famine thou shalt laugh" (Job 5:22). I may not have laughed, but I smiled inwardly. It was as though God was speaking directly to me, assuring me that His goodness wasn't controlled by material conditions—yesterday or today. I immediately felt at peace.
Next morning, custom cutters, who every year followed the harvest from Texas to Canada, cutting clients' wheat, started packing their combines and leaving town to go north where there was wheat to cut.
But my prayers after the storm had caused me to see the situation differently. So we decided to ask the cutters to cut our wheat anyway, and when they resisted, my husband insisted. Eventually, they pulled their combines into the field and were amazed that wheat kept filling the bins as they worked. That year, we had a normal harvest yield.
To me, consciously listening for messages from God as we study the Bible encourages discipleship. It makes me think of a woman among the crowds who followed Jesus. She had such faith in his healing power that she was convinced that all she needed to do to be cured after 12 years of hemorrhaging was to touch his garment and she'd be "made whole." And that's what happened. Instantly. And Jesus praised her for her faith (see Matt. 9:20-22).
In a similar way, when we reach for prayerful answers by touching even the fringes of the Truth, we can find the reassurance that God knows and cares for each of us right now.
Suzanne Riedel is a Christian Science practitioner who lives with her husband in Overland Park in the Kansas City area.
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