I know the feeling of my soul “soaring.” It happens when I read something that positively clarifies my vision and hits the mark, expressing to my ears and mind things that I have felt but been unable to articulate.
David Watson’s book, “Scripture and the Life of God”, is such reading. With every paragraph my soul is shouting, “Yes! Yes! Yes!” It rings with Truth and I get a higher and higher view of the way in which God has created me for Himself and revealed Himself to me through His Word!
Throughout my life God has introduced new writers and powerful books at key moments that have brought order to the swirling thoughts I have had about various aspects of life…. order, brokenness, loss, love, power, relationships, discipline, creativity, obedience, prayer, redemption, morality, connection, ritual, and more. Watson’s book brings into focus the relationship between my understanding of the Bible and life.
The Bible has often drawn me in and spoken to my heart about things during significant times of seeking to understand life….. a verse here, a chapter there, a parable that illuminates a principle, an insight that reorients my worldview a conviction that sears a sinful habit, a consolation that comforts and heals….. I would mull and ponder and pray and seek wisdom to understand the Bible’s principles, prohibitions, proclamations, and promises more fully and apply them to the circumstances of my life and the lives of those God has called me to serve.
Then, as if I am a learning-disabled child, God sends a tutor in the form of a book on the subject and says, “OK. I’m going to make this as clear as the nose on your face for you. Look at this through the eyes of my servant, (insert name of writer here.) I have chosen to given him (or her) special insights about this particular subject. The research has been done. The work is trustworthy. This will help you understand.” And suddenly, through the eyes and mind of another, the Scriptures are opened to me in a new way through someone else who has mulled and pondered and prayed and sought wisdom on the matter, too.
And I discover the beauty of the Body of Christ…. that each member has a valuable purpose in the edification and enlightenment of the whole. Bone, marrow, sinew, flesh and freckle….everything and everyone is valued by God and given certain passions, abilities, and purposes.
Since I was a child, one after another God has brought books and writers into my life who led me into greater understanding of His Word and how to live it…Eugenia Price, Ferrol Sams, Ann Morrow Lindbergh, Francine Rivers, Elisabeth Elliott, Frank Peretti, John Maxwell, David Powlinson, Robert Veninga, Maya Angelou, Oxford Stroud, Edward Welch, Katherine Kubler-Ross, Henry Cloud, John Townsend, Martin Lloyd-Jones, Judith Viorst, Paul Tournier, Gary Chapman, Brene’ Brown, Ann Voscamp, Beth Moore, Amy Carmichael, Evelyn Underhill, David Seamands, Malcolm Gladwell, A.W. Tozer, David Jeremiah, Sandra Richter, Charles Westerhoff, Richard Foster, Henri Nouwen, Walter Albritton, Max Lucado, John Wesley, Nancy Leigh Moss, J.D. Walt, and so many, many more. I buy, I read, I keep, I ponder. David Watson’s books are now among them……the books that God is using to bring more wisdom to the application of His Book to my life. I am a person of One Book….The Bible. But its beauty and revelation of God are made even more majestic through the eyes and minds of others who have written about their experience of Scripture and life. There is a sense in which God lives vicariously through us and in which we live vicariously through the witness of others who seek to know God, just as we do. And God does not disappoint us in that endeavor.
An Addiction? Passion? Purpose? Or merely the joy of leaning into the Life of God through others?
These are just some of the bookcases and stacks of books that are part of my life sanctuary….. Several dozen of them are various study Bibles and Bible study tools.
Even God’s inspired Word is brought to us through the eyes of others who were leaning into Him so fully that He was able to use them for this Great Work of Self-Revelation!
From the introduction to “Scripture and the Life of God: Why the Bible Matters Today More Than Ever” by David F. Watson:
“….Through the words of Scripture, Augustine took a crucial step forward in his relationship with God He had kept God at arm’s length, but now he welcomed the warm embrace of the true source of love, joy, and peace. He now knew God in a new way……
Entering into the life of God is like walking into the ocean. The further you go, the more immersed you become. You become more aware of its overwhelming power, its vastness and mystery. The difference is that if you walk too deeply into the ocean you will die, but walking deeply into the life of God brings life..
As John Wesley put it, “And what is righteousness bu the life of God in the soul, the mind, which was in Christ Jesus, the image of God stamped upon the heart, now renewed after the likeness of him that created it?”
I (Cathy) have often described my faith journey as learning to become a “deep diver” instead of a “surface floater”, accomplished through study of and meditation upon God’s Word. Watson’s ocean imagery resonates with my experience, as does my own love of the oceans, seashores and lakes where I have felt God’s intimate presence with me.
Hillsong’s “Oceans” expresses the feeling of “have me faith” that entering into the life of God engenders as one comes to know Him more and more fully and is prepared to go wherever He leads.
I test every writers’ work against the Standard of God’s Word. As I read their words, do I hear the echo of Scripture? Is there any sense in which God’s Word and character has been “adjusted” to fit a personal view of the writer or is it true to the original (as best as it has been preserved and brought to us by the Holy Spirit’s protective and illuminating Presence and the tradition of saints through the millennia). This, to me, is “sola scriptura.” Some things written, therefore, are bearable viewed under such scrutiny; other things are absolutely non-negotiable due to the degree to which one twists the Truth. In the end, is God’s Redemptive Self and Work revealed as the writer progresses in his thoughts expressed in the writing?
There have been several books that, starting out, raised red flags and some that absolutely repulsed me so that my soul turned aside saying, “No, not Truth”, but as I pushed on through I found evidence of God’s redemptive work even in them…. as questions clearly were left in the author’s own mind that questioned the author’s own assumptions. In my opinion, that process of finding the freedom to express one’s doubt through writing, as well as what one believes is known, shows God’s prevenient grace moving behind the scenes. And I can read it and set it aside, even if it seems to violate principles of God’s Word, trusting that God will lead the individual to Truth through the honesty demonstrated in the search…….and I can pray for that in the life of the writer.
I find David Watson’s writing filled with Truth and echoing the Word of God in my spirit. His books are a joy to read.