Do you find yourself reading that same passage over and over?
You’re not alone.
The writer of Hebrews explains that the Word of God is living and active (Hebrews 4:10).
God speaks to us through His Word.
It’s why we should read the Bible daily. And memorize verses too.
Several years ago, someone in the church world came up with the idea of a “Life Verse.” It became a trendy thing. Everyone I knew had one. Including me.
I was in my twenties, and because of the stress I was experiencing at that time, I chose the following verses:
Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.
~ 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12
I longed for “a quiet life.”
Then came my thirties. The drama subsided. Healing ensued. And I found myself actually enjoying certain parts of life. I wasn’t just trying to survive anymore.
That’s when I read this passage in Isaiah:
Go now, write it on a tablet for them, inscribe it on a scroll, that for the days to come it may be an everlasting witness. ~ Isaiah 30:8
I had been writing for years. And deep down, I knew that I was called to write. So I adopted Isaiah 30:8 as my new life verse. Sort of like my own personal mission statement.
For a life verse, this one may seem a bit peculiar. I doubt that it makes the average top-ten list of favorite verses. When I read it for the first time, though, I immediately stopped there.
My intention of covering a few chapters during my quiet time suddenly took a different direction. I read the verse over and over again.
The first word of the verse says “Go” and the last word says “witness.” Go witness.
Written in the imperative, this verse is a command that is clearly consistent with the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19). Moreover, everything in between instructs us on how to witness: Write it down.
The purpose of writing our testimony is “for the days to come,” for future generations, for our own children – to read and know the mighty work of God in our lives.
The second word of the verse says “now.” For many years I said to myself and to God: “I’ll start writing when I finish graduate school.” Or, “I’ll start writing when all three of my kids are in school.”
But this verse leaves room for neither compromise nor procrastination. God spoke through this verse: Stop waiting for the timing to be perfect. Stop waiting for the words to be perfect. Go now. Start writing. Be my witness.
So I started writing. Not just for myself. But in a public sphere. I began to share my written words in a public domain, which is risky and scary. When you write publically, you open yourself to praise, criticism, and indifference (which is why I believe writers to be some of the bravest people I know).
But there are different kinds of writers, just as there are different kinds of people.
Some use their words to encourage.
Some use their words to disparage.
Earlier this week I read an article that criticized the notion of having a life verse. According to one writer, people who have a life verse
- Reduce the totality of Scripture to just one verse
- Ignore the rest of what God has to say
- Impose a distorted or false meaning onto a verse that is taken out of context
- Begin the slippery slope towards heresy
Wow. That is a serious list of indictments.
And I sincerely pray that none of them are true of me.
I have no desire to ever distort Scripture or take something out of context. And I’m completely aware of the fact that Isaiah was issuing a warning to the people of Israel — a warning that I too am mindful of.
Having a life verse doesn’t mean that I neglect the rest of the Bible. Studying the whole of God’s Word is what I am most passionate about. I simply see my life verse as one of the many passages in Scripture that God has used to speak to me in a personal way.
My life verse serves as a mission statement for my calling to write. That’s all.
There are plenty of other passages I repeatedly refer to for direction. These are just few:
- Joshua 1:8
- 1 Samuel 16:7
- Psalm 19:14
- Isaiah 54:10
- Isaiah 61:1-4
- Matthew 6:33
- John 15:5
- Galatians 6:9
- Ephesians 4:29
- Colossians 3: 12-17
- Philippians 1:12, 2:4-11 (Well, all of Philippians for that matter.)
Then, of course, there’s James. And the four Gospels. And Romans. And, well, when it comes down to it, I’m hard-pressed to single out any verse or book as my absolute “favorite.” Because all of Scripture is God-breathed. All of it is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training (2 Timothy 3:16).
So I come back to the words of Paul:
Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. ~ Ephesians 4:15
As a writer and speaker, I pray that I will always speak the truth in love. I pray that I will not assign motives to other people’s actions. And I pray that I will be obedient to God’s Word and live like Christ, who came from the father full of grace and truth (John 1:14).
I don’t think everyone has to have a life verse. The whole life verse thing was a trend that caught on for a while and then quieted down. Just like the “What would Jesus do?” bracelets. And the Prayer of Jabez. And the Love Dare.
I suppose, as long as we’re on this earth, we can find fault with anything. Even a life verse.
Have you ever had a life verse?
PHOTO CREDIT: Tito & Eva Marie Balangue (Creative Commons)