My Bible study this morning asked me to write down who was most influential in teaching me about God and why. Immediately I knew my dad was the biggest influencer in my spiritual life but it took me some thought as to why that was true.
Both of my parents raised me to know and love God, my creator, and Jesus, my savior. I had smart and caring teachers growing up in church. I currently have a pastor who stretches my knowledge of history and the Bible. What was it that made my dad come to mind?
The Bible study I am using is called a “Drawn In Bible Study” with thought provoking questions and scripture surrounded by detailed coloring pages. It seemed silly at first, but the topic really interested me and the coloring pages serve as something to do with my hands while my mind searches for the answers to these questions. It helps me to really digest the scripture and contemplate my answers.
I colored a rose deep red as it occurred to me that what is special about my Dad’s approach to scripture is that he doesn’t just read the Bible and understand it. He thinks about the Bible. He imagines the stories and how they must have played out. He imagines the reality of what was written on the page and between the lines.
Doing this brings a whole new level to scripture reading and application of it. As I grew up listening to him ask questions and imagine the answers-never straying from the heart of the scripture’s message- I learned to do this myself.
Now as I read stories from the Old Testament, I imagine how each character felt, what they thought, saw, smelled, and heard on each page of the Bible.
As I read passages like this from Exodus 14:
21Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, 22 and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.
I imagine what Israelite mothers must have experienced. I am a mother and this helps me to understand the scripture and make it real… It was real. This actually happened!
A young mother, like myself, was once captured in slavery in Egypt. Her husband worked hard, physically, and emotionally they were spent. They had been waiting for a rescuer for 400 years. Prophets foretold that they would be enslaved but it was time to end that. Suddenly Moses, someone she had only heard faint rumors about once, was back with his brother to try to rescue them. She waited through the plagues that scared her nearly to death and made her question God’s goodness. Surely He was good to the Israelites, but his vengeance on the Egyptians and their innocent children… was it necessary? She feared God, knowing His power, and His favor. She followed His presence, wrangling her children in a chaotic caravan, to what seemed like a dead end.
As Moses raised his arm and stretched his hand over the sea. Strong winds whipped her hair around her face. Her young daughter cowered in fear of a storm and shivered in the wind. Her sons watched, curious, as the waters parted. Her husband, still sore from years of manual labor, carried all of their worldly belongings on his back. Together they rested for the night and watched God use his creation to save their lives.
When the sea bed was dry, the family fell in line to be shuttled between walls of water and sea life to cross to the other side. The wind continued especially strong in the alley between the waters. The boys wanted to run their hand along the sea walls, but the mother, nervous and cautious as her role was, made them keep their hands to themselves.
Once across, she sheltered the sweet kids’ eyes from watching the destruction of the Egyptian army. They were safe and this was God’s provision, but if she could keep the image of a soldier washing ashore from her babies’ minds, she would.
Weeks, months and years to come she would remind her growing children of the miracles they were able to witness, like no one in their lifetime had ever seen. She would remind them of the power and favor God had for them all.
In my life, I have seen God’s power and favor as well. I can tell my boys about the amazing things I have seen God do. He’s healed cancer beyond doctors’ explanation. He has rescued me from situations that could have been fatal. I have seen his power and his favor. Just like the Israelite mothers from Exodus, I have been rescued from slavery to sin. God gives me a way out. Just like her, I have the choice to accept it, or question it.
Bringing my imagination to scripture helps me to understand the Bible better and it makes a difference in how I live my life. Could it make a difference in yours as well?