God has given us His life, in Jesus. Jesus is in our lives, by the Spirit. Terrific!
But are we feeling that life? What is our lived-experience of the life of God, in Christ, by the Spirit? How do we, when we're feeling down and out, access what we have in Jesus? How, practically, does God aim to lift us up and bring us in?
The Word of the Lord.
The Word of God it is our primary contact point with the life of God, given in Christ, by the Spirit. We can talk to God anytime we want--that's prayer. We can experience the presence of Jesus through the Spirit anywhere--that's "the peace of God that surpasses understanding." But the Word is God’s chosen way to make those moments more significant, more frequent, safer, more powerful, and easier to share.
More significant: what does it all mean? Was it just a feeling, a sense? For an experience to make a lasting mark, it must be understood, it must be personal, it must help us. God's Word stitches the many answered prayers and experiences into a womb of grace.
More frequent: it's astonishing how, when you memorize some Scripture, the world seems more well lit. Everything makes better sense. I don't feel so down, when I'm down; and when I'm up, I feel more up: because in my up and in my down I am connected to God by the Spirit in Scripture. For example: when I need strength, I remember that God gives strength to His King, and He gives His King to me, and that that was Hannah's hope, and mine; and He is with me. Normally, though, when I need strength, I lay on the couch and feel sorry for myself. So God uses the presence of Scripture in my life to increase the moments when I feel His presence.
Safer: People have always been feeling feelings and interpreting their feelings, trying to make sense of their lives. This "sense" that they make is what they use to guide their reactions and decisions. Which is why we are so often hurting, and being hurt by, each other. We need a better interpretive grid. Scripture is the lamp our toes are begging for.
More Powerful: we all want transformation. We want God's Spirit to really change us, set us free, fill us with courage. Just as a gift of flowers is nice, but a gift of flowers with a heartfelt note from your spouse or dear friend has a more powerful effect on your mood and outlook, so also a sense of peace and calm is nice, an experience of fortune or missed-misfortune is nice, but that sense and those experiences become much more powerful when set alongside the notes that The Lover of Our Souls has provided; aka. Scripture.
Easier to Share: Ever have someone try to explain an experience that they had? It's like, "okay, that's nice. But that's your experience. I'm glad it was helpful, but it's no help to me." But when someone says, "Big storm coming our way," or, "Today's the last day to get that form in," or "your zipper is down," it's much more helpful. Why? Because they are words that reflect an outside-of-me reality. That's something we can share, together. "I want to tell you of something marvelous that has happened to me: it's this, I came to understand truly how important Jesus is to the Father, as it says in John 17:1, "Glorify the Son, that the Son may glorify the Father."" See, now I'm not just talking about my feelings, I'm sharing feelings born of facts. Facts that have shaped me in a powerful, safe way, made more significant because of the frequency of my contact with these facts; facts that I can share with you, to similar effect.
The Spirit of God is Word-focused: The Spirit wants us to understand the significance in our lives and in the church, and thus for the World, of the Word. The Word is the Truth of God revealed in Jesus. This is what we need, and all we need, for all that we all face.
And Jesus is Word-focused, because this is Jesus’ Spirit: Jesus wants His Spirit to work the best work in the best way, and Jesus knows, as the Spirit knows, that that means the Spirit uses The Word that the Spirit fills.
And the Father is Word-focused, because this is the Father’s Spirit and the Father’s Son. The Father is delighted in One Thing: when others see His Son truly and delight in Him as is fitting; and, which is the same thing, when others receive the Spirit's work truly and respond appropriately, in praise and thanks to the Son.
God is Word-centered. That means that all He has done--creation--is Word-centered. That means that all He does and allows--history--is Word-centered. That means that His special, gracious projects--redemption, the church--are Word-centered. That means that all things, when they are themselves truly and are aware to what is and ought to be and are willing to abide by it, are Word-centered. In short, be Word-centered.
That means, yes, read your Bible. Yes, memorize a verse or two or a bunch. Yes, attend services and studies. Yes, to all these things. But not just, but also: receive the nourishment--long for the pure spiritual milk like a newborn baby--in your soul. Where life is spinning off-true, return to the Good News of the Word. Where your soul is wobbling, recenter on Jesus, on specific words and phrases, promises and commands. Where you have an opportunity to steady a friend's faith, save your home-spun wisdom for your memoir, and share the understanding that the Spirit has given us in Scripture of all that the Father has given us in Jesus.