I got a surprise when I took my six-year-old grandson to a nearby Native American mission. The original church still stands, the rectory and a teepee not far away. An interpretive center tells you all you want to know about the history of the mission and its people. I love to visit.
This day, my grandson was fascinated. We had to stop at every station in the church to look at artifacts. When we left the building, a path led to a wooded, weedy hill where we discovered graves. Signs marked the graves. My grandson could not read them, but he asked me to tell him what was said on every single one of them.
I did not expect this thirsty knowledge of history from him. After all, he was only six! He was fascinated by history and I was fascinated by him. We shared an unforgettable time together.
The written word is powerful. But something happens in a spirit when that written word is then read aloud. When the ear hears what the eye sees, the heart takes it in.
I am still studying in the book of Joshua. I discovered something interesting. The Israelites lost a battle at Ai—right on the heels of the victory at Jericho. After dealing with the reason for the defeat, they attacked again and won the second battle.
Then, Joshua gathered the people together. Men, women and children. He read the entire Scriptures to them aloud that day. And all the people stayed to hear.
After a victory and before moving forward, the Israelites listened to the spoken Word of God and rededicated their lives and their quest to Him.
What is interesting to me is that the same thing happened centuries later when Israel’s Babylonian captivity came to an end. Nehemiah, appointed governor, arrived from Persia to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. After much opposition, the wall was constructed in a short time. But how would they move forward unless they rededicated themselves to the Lord?
The prophet Ezra stepped up to a platform and read the Scripture all day, for several days, to men, women, and children. When they heard the Words of God, they went out and did what was asked of them. This generation, too, had faced a daunting quest given to them by God. Before they could move forward, they stood to listen to God’s Word proclaimed among them.
What does it do to your relationships when you read a bedtime story to your children? Do the kids hang onto your every word? Does something pass between your spirits?
Sharing what we did at the mission was special for my grandson and me.
At my church last year, we set aside a day and took turns reading the Scriptures out loud. The church was not full, but before and after our turns to read, we could sit and listen. The words floated around the room. The voice cadences leant color. Stories came alive. I heard the Word of God in a new way.
It settled into my spirit. It renewed my purpose.
What if Believers in Jesus began to publicly read the Word, and do it consistently?
Maybe we would see building instead of destruction. Maybe we could move forward as a people, united.
Maybe God would be honored.