The year after the Iron Curtain fell I visited Moscow, Russia, to teach a classroom filled with eager ministerial students. I appreciated the opportunity to invest in their young lives but really missed my wife. The Internet and email systems had not invaded the world of communications yet, so we corresponded through faxes. The phone system was not stable in those days, so it took many attempts in both directions for us to communicate.
I cannot capture in words the excitement I felt when missionary Carla Sunberg called me from across town with the welcoming words, “Sue just sent you a fax.”
I ran down 10 flights of stairs and across several streets to the subway station. I rode the subway across town and then walked to the missionary apartment. I read Sue’s fax over and over until I nearly memorized every word. Why? Because I had just received a new message from my wife. She shared news from home, words of encouragement for my assignment, and reminders of her love for me.
Who is Sue? I could tell you that she has a human body with 206 bones, seven octillion atoms (7 followed by 27 zeros), and composed of 55% water. That is factually true but misses the point entirely. She is my wife, the love of my life. I enjoy every minute of our time together and miss her terribly whenever we are apart. So her faxes to Russia had very little to do with information and much to do with connecting at the emotional level of our life together.
I think of those love letters often when I spend time daily reading the Bible.
I approach my time in Scripture as an opportunity to read God’s love letters to me.
I often hear people refer to the Bible as ancient history, a book of mystery, a collection of truth statements, a guide for living, or a study of the human condition. True, it can be described from dozens of perspectives. But, to see it as simply religious literature or a collection of pithy truth statements misses its purpose entirely.
We learn many things about God, ourselves, and life on earth in the pages of the Bible. Those truths serve us well when applied to daily living. But, that’s not why we read the Bible. The pages of Scripture offer us a love story of a heavenly Father who created us, looks after us, and longs to spend time with us daily. They remind us of His comfort and care in ways we seldom recognize. They foster a relationship that is as rich and meaningful as any we know on earth.
Can words on the pages of a book really do all of that? Not by themselves. The Bible is far more than a book. The Holy Spirit inspired authors to pen the thoughts God placed in their hearts. Then, He carefully inspired believers to collect those thoughts into the pages of our Bible. He further guided those who copied the texts word-for-word by hand across many centuries and then inspired translators as they passed the text from one language to another. He didn’t stop there. Thankfully, even now the Holy Spirit of God sits beside you every time you open the Bible, gives you eyes of faith as you read, and whispers His message straight into your heart.
1 John 4:10 says, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” We can describe the Bible in many ways. I think it is the best love letter we will ever read.
Frank M. Moore is editor in chief of Holiness Today.
Holiness Today, July/Aug 2018.