About forty years ago a friend and I were engrossed in conversation and the topic of books came up. Being a voracious reader, I started rattling off all the books I’d been reading and all the ones stacked up that I planned to read and she floored me with one statement. “I only read the Bible.” What?!?! How can you only read the Bible? How will you learn anything? At the time, I was a stay at home mom, with ambitions to read as many books as I could and learn as much as possible so I could make a difference. I rarely read a novel because they wouldn’t make me smarter. Of course, I was wrong about that. I’ve since concluded that well-researched novels, can certainly add knowledge to what I know.
At the time, I remember I was reading books like ‘Lord, Change Me’ – it didn’t change me. I was reading ‘How to Talk With Practically Anyone About Practically Anything’. Hmmm…..I still don’t work a crowd like a marketing pro – it didn’t change me. I read ‘The Power of a Praying Wife’ – I didn’t practice it. I read ‘How to Win Friends and Influence Others’ – I have a lot of friends, but I didn’t win them because I followed the formula in that book. Through the years I have read hundreds of books – some authentically valuable. Many of them gave me survival tips that helped me through some complicated situations.
To be effective, I can’t just read and forget, I have to put wise words into practice. Look at a few of the Psalms with me. Psalm 85:8 I will listen to what God the Lord says; he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants and what about Psalm 86:2 that says Guard my life, for I am faithful to you; save your servant who trusts in you. You are my God.
I need to know that God is guarding my life and strengthening my foundation. Anxiety can so easily sneak in and start causing me to doubt myself and be fearful. Psalm 86:11 is the cure for anxiety. Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.
I am still a voracious reader – and 90% of what I read is intended to make me smarter. If I could define my perfect career, I would spend all day reading books, researching articles, and contributing to the success of the authors by giving them feedback and encouraging them by promoting all the good points of what they’ve written. I know – I hear you. That’s not a paying job. OK – but I enjoy the whole process of reading, thinking, and I love writing and journaling. Most of all I love to be the encourager.
This is what I’ve come to realize though. My friend was right way back in the early 70s. In all the reading I do, my foundation has to be the Word of God. Without it, I would be living in an anxiety factory. Life is uncertain and uncertainty breeds anxiety. Reading the Bible first and running to the words of the Father instead of the words of man, no matter how truthful they are, is the path to being free of anxiety. But reading the Word is only the first step. Matthew 7:24-28 (NIV) “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.
Let’s encourage each other to build our foundation on the truth – so we can discern the other books we should be reading to help us be effective in whatever tasks are before us. And while we’re at it – let’s practice, peaceful living. Philippians 4:9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.