A WOMAN I know has for decades helped others through prayer. One day recently, though, she herself was in need of direction and comfort. Though he knew nothing of her need, a friend who lived nearby just then knocked on her door. He, too, had spent decades loving and teaching the Bible--in his case in faraway lands. He had brought his Bible to suggest that they study together that morning. She was reluctant at first, but agreed to his plan. At the end of two hours, she felt uplifted and free.
How do we think of the Bible? Is it a centerpiece on the mantel-- a decoration that we look at but rarely touch? Or is it for us a living book that we turn to often?
The Bible's vital message isn't limited to yesterday; it speaks to our lives today! It is full of examples of courageous individuals who accepted God's love so completely that what had appeared as insurmountable problems were solved with God's help. And the Bible tells us the nature of God and gives us tested guidelines that keep us on the path of growth in our understanding of Him. It is the living record of love--God's love for man. If we open the book and study--really study--what it is telling us, we will feel that love regardless of what we may be facing.
The book of Romans, in the New Testament, points out, ``Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope'' (15:4). The Bible is a book to be opened. But opening the Bible is only the first step. It must then be read and studied. We need to grapple with its lessons and make them our own. The Bible characters won their victories through deep faith and strong effort. We share in their victories only as we make our own strong effort to understand God ourselves.
From the Old Testament to the New, prophets and other Bible characters displayed great faith that a clearer understanding of God would come and that everyone needed to prepare for it. Can't we see this in the clear visions of Isaiah, prophesying the coming of the Messiah? Christ Jesus' coming, his life of healing and teaching, are the culmination of what the Bible is telling us of God's kingdom--where we all dwell.
As we become more familiar with the Bible's message, we begin to see that it's not about someone else, long ago. It's about us, today! There's plenty of historical narrative in the Bible, and this is factual--it really did happen and actual people experienced it. But in a broader sense, the Bible is fundamentally the account of our lives and our relation to God today. God is timeless. He knows no single life or generation or century or era. His truth is likewise unchanging. In actual fact, man comes from and is governed by God. The Bible's lessons, then, are timeless and relate to the inherently spiritual nature of our being.
We may think we know ourselves reasonably well. But it is in the Bible that we really find ourselves. So, its pages demand our close attention, our deepest study.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Founder of the Christian Science Church, healed herself and others of many diseases through what she learned from studying the Bible. She says in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ``I have demonstrated through Mind the effects of Truth on the health, longevity, and morals of men; and I have found nothing in ancient or in modern systems on which to found my own, except the teachings and demonstrations of our great Master and the lives of prophets and apostles. The Bible has been my only authority'' (p. 126).
Our study of the Bible does more than cheer us up. It changes everything. It heals us. It makes all things new. But most important, sincere study of the Bible makes us in greater and greater degree an active participant in what it is saying. We feel in real ways the power in its message.
There is always more to see, more to know in the Bible's pages. Even though we have opened this book thousands of times, there remains a vital lesson for us for each new day. This is part of the great love in its pages--its message is always new and always ready to meet our need.