“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12
When I started Chronological Bible Study two years ago, this verse came up during one of our earliest sessions. It resonated to my core. Although I had read through the Bible before, I still struggled to understand how all the pieces fit together, and moreover how they ought to impact me. Reading these words early on, I remember praying, “God, I’m taking You at Your word. Show me that Your word truly is living and active.” From that moment on, two words best describe my experience: Buckle. Up.
God began to unfold His story before my newly surrendered heart and I began seeing my story through His plan of redemption. I saw my temptation and sin in the garden and my tendency to scheme through the story of Sarai. I wept when God showed up and used an inarticulate, hesitant man named Moses to lead His people out of the torment of slavery. I cheered when the Israelites left Egypt and wept again when they began moaning and complaining just days after their miraculous rescue. I found myself frustrated and irritated with their sin, and then I saw my own. Countless times the stories pointed back to my life. I was faced with the conviction to change my attitude. It was God’s word that did that.
Whether it was reading with awe at David’s authentic struggles and genuine faith or fuming over the hardened hearts of God’s disobedient people, I experienced something new in my life and in my heart. I was being changed by His story! And only something living and active has the power to change us.
When we entered the New Testament, I found my heart aching with the widow who had lost her son or the woman at the well who had no worth until meeting the Savior. And although I had no obvious commonalities with their stories, the one way we were the same was staggering. We were changed by hearing the voice of Jesus and believing His merciful love was meant for us. As I read on, I dreaded the coming crucifixion, but was compelled to continue. His resurrection was perfect, His Spirit an incredible gift, and I stood amazed at the power of His word. His fame spread and, once again, He chose an unlikely and perfectly imperfect lot of men to spread His gospel. (Who but God would orchestrate the perfect story of redemption through the constant imperfection of man?!) That was it. I found myself completely and utterly in love with my Heavenly Father. His word has penetrated my soul and permeated every area of my life.
It’s funny, but when I lost my dad suddenly nine years ago, I found that anything he had written was suddenly and inexplicably precious to me. The photos were great, but nothing allowed me to feel closer to my dad than reading his words. I was struck by that this week as I thought about how much truer that is when reading the words of my Heavenly Father! His words are His gift to His children. And though my dad’s words touch my heart, God’s words change my life.
The God who formed us is the same God who knew we would need a Savior. The God who penned our story is the same God who wrote Abraham’s. His promises are true, His covenants lasting, His righteousness real, His grace free, and His mercy undeniable. And His story? Well, “[His] word is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Read it. Embrace it. And pray that He’ll show you just how alive it is.