A couple of weeks ago while reading my devotions, from the book 100 Days to be Brave by Annie F. Downs, I was struck by something she wrote about reading our Bibles. She explains “The Bible isn’t boring. It isn’t just lists, or just rules, or just a bunch of stories that are hard to understand. It’s a record of who God is and the story of His great love for His people – and that’s us” (40). It got me thinking about how the Bible is our story too. As the author of Hebrews writes in chapter twelve we are “surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses” (verse 1). This comes right after the famous “Faith Chapter” where the author lists out some of the greatest acts of faith recorded in scripture.
As people living in the 21st century it can be very hard to pick up the Bible and relate to characters who walked on dirt roads instead of driving cars, or who wrote long letters to each other instead of shooting a quick text. Time can make us feel distant from the people in the Bible. This distance can lead us to believe the lie that Bible stories no longer have relevance to us. That God doesn’t work that way anymore. We start to convince ourselves that the level of faith achieved by those in the Bible is an impossible standard to reach, so we simply stop trying. Oh, how wrong we are.
Listen. You are not the first to feel sick, hurt, and broken. You are not the first to be called out unto the great unknown. You are not the first believer to argue with God, to yell at him, to disobey. You are not the first to be afraid of speaking out, of leading others to God. You are not the first to doubt Him, to deny your belief in Him.
The path you walk is one that had been trailed many times over. You do not walk it alone, but rather surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. Their stories are your stories, because the journey is the same. You run the same race for the same prize as they did so many centuries ago.
We are not all that different from them. We have hopes and dreams just like they did, and we cower under our failures just like they did. We have victories and triumphs, moments of complete despair. Our faith is tested and challenged by the world around us. The same enemy they fought is still stalking us today. The same weapons they had available are the same ones we have. The Bible is filled with stories of people just like us. It is not meant to simply be a book full of instruction but also full of examples of what can happen when a person trusts in God.
For the rest of this week, we’re going to examine some of these biblical stories. My hope is that each day, you will come to view these often thought of as ancient characters in a different light. That you will come to see how the Bible does relate directly to you and that time does not change its value.