. . . you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God (Matt. 22:29).
“At least I can still play tennis.” That line came from pro golfer Greg Norman this past weekend following surgery that saved his left hand.
On Saturday Norman was at his home in Florida and had gone out to trim some tree branches with a chainsaw. In the course doing that task, he reached out to grab a limb he had cut. The chainsaw blade was slowing but still moving when the weight of the limb pulled Norman’s left wrist into the blade, barely missing tendon and artery. He was able to get to the emergency room where he was immediately taken to surgery.
A chainsaw is an amazingly useful power tool. I have two in the storage unit behind my house. One is very small and attaches to a pole that allows you to cut small branches that are hard to reach. The other is slightly larger. Norman’s story reminded me of how rarely I use them.
I am glad to know that I have a chainsaw. If needed, I know exactly where to find it. But I never intentionally look for chances to use it. Whenever I do happen to pull one of them out for something that needs to be done in the yard, I always have to relearn what to do. It feels awkward and strange and it takes a while to get a feel for how it works.
My relationship with my chainsaw is very similar to the way many people use their Bible. They are glad they own a Bible. They may in fact own more than one. But they rarely open it and read it. It sits undisturbed on a shelf or in a drawer. Beyond using it at church (if then) they don’t intentionally look for chances to use their Bible. And when they do use it, it feels somewhat awkward and alien to them. It takes time to get reacquainted with the contents of this beloved but neglected book.
The series we’re launching this week is about God’s story. But this story comes to us in a book. And before we jump into the story, we need to say a word about the book in which we find it. The Bible and a chainsaw share this in common: to use them well you need to handle them with care and with confidence.
Jesus rebuked some very religious people in his day because they knew neither the scriptures nor the power of God. His words were surprising because he spoke them to people who had memorized large portions of their Bible. But they misused what they read, and in this carelessness they missed out on God’s story. Both care and confidence are needed.
As for confidence: Along with these daily reflections, make use of your Bible. Find it and read it. You may want to load a Bible app on your phone or tablet. The more you rummage about in the pages of scripture the more confident you will become. You are perfectly capable of reading and understanding this book that tells us God’s story.
And as for care: come to the Bible willing to listen. Use other sources that will help you get familiar with the story it tells. Consider joining a group for eight weeks during this series. The Bible will reward careful, patient, humble study.
God wants you to know his story. He has revealed it to us in his book. Handle it with care – but also with confidence. You creator wants to speak with you.
We give you thanks, O God, for the gift of the Bible. Make us careful in our reading, attentive in our listening, and bold in daily opening the pages of your story. Help us to hear your voice behind the words we read, we ask in Jesus’s name. Amen.