This week I am spending some special time cherishing a dear friend. It is National Bible Week – a time designated to encourage reading what has often been referred to as a companion, friend, and guide in life.
My love for the Bible started early in my childhood. As soon as I learned to read, I was given a book of Bible stories for children. Those stories of people being helped out of extreme difficulties by a divine influence and intelligence they called the one God and Father (see I Corinthians 8:6) soon became my favorite book. It showed me there is hope to overcome whatever adverse situations confront us.
The Bible wasn’t a childish vehicle of escapism for me. During challenges in my early life, caused by my parents’ divorce, I could see that the spiritual encounters of Noah, Moses, Daniel, Ruth, and others were teaching me something – that I, too, had the love of God, the Father, always near me, to guide and protect me. I was inspired by their trust in God as good and the blessings He brought them. Mostly I was impressed by their growing understanding of God.
Following their lead, I learned to listen for God’s direction in my life, too, trying to pray to God as they did – to “trust in the Lord with all thine heart” as the book of Proverbs instructs (3:5). I began to trust in the inspired view of God as Love seen in the life, teachings, and healing works of Christ Jesus. I was comforted by a sense of love from God that previously I had not known.
In times of distress and sadness I prayed to God, based on the inspired biblical view of Him as Love, rather than of God as a harsh or punishing power. I found myself at peace and joyful. It made sense to me that God as Love meant that I was His loved child, for as the book of First John declares, “We love him, because he first loved us” (4:19). And from one small moment to another of overcoming fear or anger or lack, I saw the value of prayer to the God who is Love, an idea the Bible revealed to me.
This is how I knew there was something remarkable about the Bible – anyone could apply its sacred truths and find help. It contained concrete evidence that God is present and willing to touch our lives and heal us.
Eventually I put down my beloved children’s book. I began to read directly from the Holy Bible every day. It was when I read this statement about the Bible by the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, that I realized just how much more there is to glean from its sacred truths, “The spiritual sense of the Scriptures understood enables one to utilize the power of divine Love in casting out God’s opposites, called evils, and in healing the sick” (“Message to The Mother Church for 1900,” p. 5).
That was what I longed for, the Bible’s spiritual signification. Mrs. Eddy had clearly discovered, as she writes in “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” that “[t]he Bible contains the recipe for all healing” (p. 406). Reading the Bible had always given me guidance and inspiration. But I could see, through her deep spiritual insight, that the inspired words and experiences in the Bible were guideposts to gaining an understanding of the true facts of God, man, and the universe, as Spirit and His spiritual creation. Applying these spiritual facts prayerfully brought what a dogmatic approach to the Bible could never bring me, physical healing, many times, over the years.
As I am writing to encourage others to read the Bible, as this special week indicates, I must admit that the Bible challenges me to think more deeply about God and the world around me. It’s what I cherish most about it. The Bible makes thinkers out of us; it gives us divine and inspired facts of God and man, and shows we can prove these truths in our own lives just as those earlier healers and spiritual thinkers did thousands of years ago.