Feasting upon the word

Published 7:06 am Thursday, August 16, 2018

I have lived in Farmville for two years now. While I have not been on every spot on the High Bridge Trail, I believe I have been in every segment riding bikes or walking the dog.

One thing I have noticed is that other than the bridge itself, the trail is pretty much the same wherever you go: Beautifully maintained limestone path, lush greenery, mileposts to mark your progress. Occasionally there are breaks, a little openness in the trees where you can get out and see a field or a meadow. But generally, from place to place, the trail is consistently the same.

Visit the trail over time, however, and it can be very different. As the leaves fall, for example, the experience you have on the trail changes. The greenery between the trail and the outside world becomes thin. We can see cows that we couldn’t see before, perhaps a house we didn’t know was there, maybe even come face to face with a human being. These descriptions of the High Bridge Trail could well apply to the Holy Scriptures.

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God’s word is the same every time we open the cover. It doesn’t change. And yet, as we continue diligent devoted study over time, we learn new things. That’s why Jesus taught: “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life; and they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39). The scriptures always point us toward Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of the world.

Each time we feast upon God’s word, we are a different person ourselves. We bring different concerns, ideas, trials, hardships and questions. As we reach out to God through prayer, His responses usually come through the scriptures. Along with personal prayer, consistent worship with other believers, and the giving of Christlike service, Jean B. Bingham has called daily reading of the scriptures “a building block for a joyful life.”

When I was preparing to go away to college I was terrified. I began to doubt my decision, and considered changing plans. But one day reading the New Testament I was especially touched by the words of Paul to Timothy: “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). These words seemed tailored to give me the encouragement and strength I needed to persevere and showed that my Heavenly Father was mindful of my concerns.

May we each feel the strength that comes through consistent scripture study, as noted in the treasured hymn: “As I search the holy scriptures, May thy mercy be revealed. Soothe my troubled heart and spirit; May my unseen wounds be healed.”

BRENT ROBERTS is the Branch Presidency First Counselor in the Sandy River Branch, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and also Dean of Greenwood Library at Longwood University. He can be reached at brentsroberts@hotmail.com.