This post was written by Mrs Jinksto and me as an email to some friends who are facing tough times. I’ve asked them if I could share it here because I thought it was a neat bit of writing that covers an important idea. It starts off with a simple answer to a hard question:
Read your bible. Sounds easy. It’s not. Sure, we all read our bibles in church when someone is reading a verse or three to us… but think about the last time you sat down and read a whole chapter? There’s so much in the Bible that never gets preached and so much that never gets studied. There are tools to help you figure your problems out. There are solutions to problems that you never knew you had. You know all of this but it’s easy to forget.
We’re not telling you to study your Bible here. You should, of course. Dig into the details and understand exactly what it’s telling you and why. That’s good. It’s very good. Sometimes though we’d rather pick up a trashy novel and just zone out for a while. You can do that with the Bible too… zone out… disappear into the story.
Sometimes you just need to read it without all of the work. Start at the beginning of a chapter and just read. Enjoy the flow of the words. The way verses flow one into the next. See the overall story and not just bits of wisdom in verses to be aptly applied. The stories in the Bible are beautiful tales of wondrous things that really happened. The words and phrases that it uses are poetic and… well, beautiful. As a writer, even one that’s not very good, I hate using the same word over and over in a single letter but in this case "beautiful" applies in more circumstances than not. I honestly don’t know how to describe the Bible without using those words… beautiful, wonderful, glorious.
Some of our favorite books? Psalms, of course. Proverbs is awesome and the most beautiful book: Luke. Matthew is wonderful if a little hard to understand at times and Romans provides a path to salvation that is very enlightening. It doesn’t matter though. Pick any book that you like. Read it.
We have written thousands of words in these emails trying to share things that we have seen work. Things that we know will help you in the troubled times ahead. We’ve seen parents who have devoted every waking moment of their lives to their children. They’ve made hard choices and given them the best advice that they could. They have agonized over those choices, and begged shaking and crying on their knees before God that they be shown the right decisions. They have cried tears of love for those children. They have cried tears of rage and tears of sorrow because they could not see clearly how to guide them at times. They have lamented the mistakes that they made and prayed to God that they never make them again. We know this because we have seen the tears. We have heard the prayers and we have prayed some of the same prayers and shed some of the same tears for them and for their children.
And yet, if you read the Bible you will find that this dedication and love is not new to the world. Here is the first Chapter of Proverbs, It teaches something that we’ve all been trying to teach children for years. It teaches wisdom and right… in 33 verses God spells out clearly what has taken mortal men and women a lifetime of teaching to share. Read it with us… we’ve removed the verse numbers, skip the words you don’t know, just read it, not as verses but as the story that it was intended to be.
Proverbs, Chapter 1
The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: for attaining wisdom and discipline; for understanding words of insight; for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair; for giving prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young– let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance– for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.
Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck. My son, if sinners entice you, do not give in to them. If they say, "Come along with us; let’s lie in wait for someone’s blood, let’s waylay some harmless soul; let’s swallow them alive, like the grave, and whole, like those who go down to the pit; we will get all sorts of valuable things and fill our houses with plunder; throw in your lot with us, and we will share a common purse"– my son, do not go along with them, do not set foot on their
paths; for their feet rush into sin, they are swift to shed blood. How useless to spread a net in full view of all the birds! These men lie in wait for their own blood; they waylay only themselves! Such is the end of all who go after ill-gotten gain; it takes away the lives of those who get it.
Wisdom calls aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the public squares; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out, in the gateways of the city she makes her speech: "How long will you simple ones love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge? If you had responded to my rebuke, I would have poured out my heart to you and made my thoughts known to you. But since you rejected me when I called and no one gave heed when I stretched out my hand, since you ignored all my advice and would not accept my rebuke, I in turn will laugh at your disaster; I will mock when calamity overtakes you– when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you. "Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me. Since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the LORD, since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes. For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools
will destroy them; but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm."
In Proverbs 16 these same ideas are mentioned; here are verses 20-24:
20 Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD.
21 The wise in heart are called discerning, and gracious words promote instruction.
22 Prudence is a fountain of life to the prudent, but folly brings punishment to fools.
23 The hearts of the wise make their mouths prudent, and their lips promote instruction.
24 Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
"Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones." How beautiful and meaningful and direct. There is such beauty in the bible that we miss when we study too closely. Study too, always study and understand but sometimes you need to stop and see the whole story and just read. It is divine, and grand, and lofty, and sublime, and yes it is beautiful. It is all of those things and it is the Word of God.