The challenge of walking with the God who knows me  

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If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. 2 Cor 5:17

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John 17:17

“Sanctify them by the truth, your word is truth.”

Riding home on the bus through the streets of Edinburgh.  I was a little dejected, as God seemed far away. What could it be that had taken the sparkle out of a normally close relationship with him. Though obviously far from perfect, I could not think of way that I had offended him.  My thoughts went to all the spiritual disciplines that I was doing: quiet time, Bible study, going to church, reading the Bible daily, memorising Scripture, fellowship, reviewing verses previously memorised.  Yes, this last and surely least of them all seemed to be the one thing that I was not doing – Reviewing verses.  Surely that could not make have made the difference?

There was only one way to find out.  I went back to reviewing previously memorised verses, and almost immediately the sparkle returned!  I was quite bowled over.  Why had I let it slip?  Probably things were a bit too hectic and it just seemed too much bother.  But I did and the effects were clear.

Why was there such a consequence to such a small thing.  It was not as if I thought deeply about the verses being reviewed.  It was more like a soldier polishing his gun, keeping it ready for the day it is needed.  I am often amazed by how useful and necessary these verses are.  The Holy Spirit seems to bring an appropriate verse that I memorised even years ago, out of nowhere when a situation requires it.

I began to realise that I have a spiritual hunger that adjusts to my consumption.  If I normally spend a great deal of time in the Word then spiritually I become accustomed to that.  There is a sense of dependence on it.  Like the people of Israel in the desert eating manna.  “He who gathered much did not have too much and he who had little did not have too little.”  (Ex 16:18 NIV) If God has brought us to a place of gathering much, then we need to gather much.  If on the other hand one is in a time of gathering little then that too will be enough.  The amount one gathers does not always increase with spirituality either.  I remember my wife’s advice to young doctors just starting out in their houseman’s year. These junior doctors had at that time to work unbelievably long hours.  There was no time for Bible study preparation, Scripture memory and other such luxuries of previous years.  So my wife would suggest, keep a verse card in your pocket and while you have a spare minute or two take it out and meditate on it.  That was all they could cope with, and for those who could, it seemed to be sufficient.  God’s grace was sufficient even then.

The Word is also like a cleanser.  It seemed that the Word of God in some strange way cleans us by going through us, even if we are not really thinking that deeply about it.  That does not mean it is unimportant to think about it, but rather that Christ works on us through his Word in ways we don’t understand.  “.. as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing of water though the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” (Eph 5:25 NIV) When I take in the Word, Jesus, in his great love gives of himself to clean me, drawing me back to himself, bringing my focus away from all that defiles and back to the one who loves me.