By Peter Sanlon
We read the Bible to equip us for our pilgrimage to heaven; but we cannot be reading the Bible all the time. How does God’s written Word help us during the hours we are living life and caught up in normal duties and activities? God’s Word is not only powerful when the pages are opened and visible to us. God’s Word is active in us all the time – but how?
The many pictures and images used in scripture are surely selected by the Spirit because they evoke reactions, reflections and insights even when the verses are not actually being read. Pictures in the Bible rest in our hearts and shape our reflections as we go about our daily business.
So one of my chores is mowing the grass. I have been thinking about it regularly over the past week – I am keen to cut the grass once more on a dry day before winter sets in. Each day I glance at the sky, consider the possibility of rain and peer at my growing lawn. And as I think of the need to cut my grass, I cannot but help recall the words of Isaiah 40:6: ‘All people are like grass, and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field.’ This is how God’s Word works – the picture of grass is lodged in my heart and every time I think of getting my lawn mower out of the garage, God’s Spirit moves me to ponder the fleeting faithfulness of humanity.
Or take another picture. Consider the animals of the Bible. I took my family to a safari yesterday. We enjoyed looking at the animals. Most people see only the animals – but pilgrims who read the Bible cannot help but recollect the Bible’s mention of God’s creatures. So when I saw an ostrich peer into our car and strut around us – I not only admired the power and size of the biggest of birds – I remembered that Job points us to the ostrich as one of God’s creations which we ought to admire and be amazed at. ‘The wings of the ostrich flap joyfully … When she spreads her feathers to run, she laughs at horse and rider.’ (Job 39:13-18)
God’s people do not just see the activities of daily life – we see the images God’s Word places in our heart and we respond to each step of our journey with appreciation for the guidance of His Word.
The same occurs every time we watch the news and hear of rulers and kings making plans – we recall that ‘The One enthroned in heaven laughs and scoffs at them.’ (Ps. 2:4)
Kings, grass, sheep, birds, builders, seed – the list of images in scripture is endless. And so are the lessons God brings to mind with the pictures he draws in our hearts.
Rev. Dr. Peter Sanlon is rector of Emmanuel Anglican Church, Tunbridge Wells: www.emmanuelanglican.uk