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God’s remarkable ways

The Word Lives
God’s remarkable ways God’s remarkable ways
The Rev. Kathy Brumbaugh, Special Writer

Background text: 2 Timothy 3:16

Devotional text: Hebrews 4:12

I’ve been a Christian for many years now and lately have been thinking about what drew me to God. Here is a little synopsis of the journey I took in finding God. Perhaps it will resonate with you.

I was raised in a Christian denomination; we went to church each Sunday from as far back as I can remember. During my teen years, my friend, Betsy, and I decided to visit various churches together to see what other denominations had to offer.

Betsy was a Presbyterian. I was Catholic. We began our quest by visiting each other’s church on a Sunday morning. From there, we spent each Sunday visiting a different denomination within walking distance from our homes, and there were many.

We saw various ways of distributing the communion service, from coming up to the railing to being served in our seats; from taking small pieces of bread and drinking juice to receiving a wafer and drinking from a cup of wine.

We learned a variety of ways to worship, some with song, some with instruments besides the organ and some with a simple guitar. At one church, the music varied from the usual hymns to the playing of pop show tunes. That same church gave a message about the wheel.

I well remember the large stone replica of a wheel on their altar. Although the people were friendly, and they had a delightful fellowship time following the service, we decided this church lacked in our search for Jesus.

At another church, we were introduced to the gift of speaking in tongues, along with translation of what was said, and also prophetic quotes by some of the members.

Some churches had dress codes. Others were open to us as “come as you are.”

After a few months of church visiting, we had a pretty good idea of the ways people worshiped God. We had much to discuss and think about. Where did we fit into God’s plan?

I also must say that up to that time I had never read the Bible for myself. In the church my family went to, at that time, the congregation was not encouraged to read the Bible on a personal level. Although we had a family Bible in the house, I don’t think anyone ever opened it.

Those were also the days when the liturgy of the Mass was still mostly spoken in Latin. To this day, I can still recall the Latin words for “God be with you” and “And also with you!”

During our church visitations, I was given a Bible. It was translated into modern English, so it was easy to read and understand. I found many of the stories I had been told that were in Genesis, from the Creation to The Flood, from Abraham to Moses and the Exodus from Egypt.

However, now, having the opportunity to read them for myself, I could read and re-read the words of scripture, and I found they had such wonderful meaning and truth about God.

From there, I read the New Testament. I wanted to read the four gospels to learn the life of Jesus. Yes, I already knew the Christmas story, Jesus’ baptism by his cousin John, the temptations in the desert, calling of his disciples, his three-year ministry, and his death and resurrection.

However, in reading it for myself, I found it spoke to me as never before. I felt that God was speaking to me, personally. The words of scripture had such an effect on me, it seemed they jumped right off the page into my soul.

Now, I had my own Bible for the first time. I couldn’t put it down. I wanted to learn more and more about God made flesh and living among us. I wanted to know the parables, the stories, the prayers of Jesus, the mercy of God.

Through the years, I’ve learned that it is the second person of our triune God, the Holy Spirit, who leads us to God and then aids us in understanding the holy scripture. Then, when we choose to accept Jesus as Savior, it is the Holy Spirit who comes to dwell within us, as counselor, comforter, guide and so much more.

John 16:8 tells us it is the Holy Spirit who convicts us of sin, who brings us to the truth of God. John 16:12 tells us that “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth.”

The Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 8:9 that we cannot become believers without the Holy Spirit and that it is the word of God (scripture) that speaks to our hearts to bring us to God. In Romans 10:17, he writes, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”

In Hebrews 4:12, we read that “the word of God is living and active.” It is more than a collection of words and stories. The word of God itself becomes alive in us as we read it, and it leads us to take action (to want to learn more, to accept Jesus, to change ways that lead to unhappiness, to comfort us, etc.).

God’s words help us to see who we are as individual people, and his words guide us away from who we should not be. Reading or listening to God’s words are never enough; acting on God’s words help us to become the persons we were always meant to become.

It is truly amazing to me that, by reading God’s word, we are drawn to him as he speaks to us. The Holy Spirit reaches out to connect with us before we receive the Spirit in our hearts. We are drawn to God by the conviction of his scripture, finding a need that perhaps we never knew we had.

As we choose to believe in the words we have read, the Bible opens us to even more. It is a good thing to make a habit of reading the Bible on a regular basis. It never disappoints as we become familiar with the word of God that speaks to us internally and eternally.

As my friend Betsy and I discovered, there are many Christian denominations, but they all have one thing in common: they believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior.

We didn’t stop going to church with our families back then. However, as we grew older and made our own decisions, each of us found the church, the body of Christ, to which we felt we best belonged.