By Nathan C. Vance
I’m sure for some of you the constant chatter about my son can be nauseating but, for me, he’s everything. That may sound strange, especially because I usually include stories about him being an active two-year-old with a talent for wearing his parents out but I’ve never met anyone quite like him. He lights up a room like I’ve never seen! And, because of that, when he talks, daddy listens.
Right now we’re in a phase of life where he uses the words can and can’t to test his limits. In fact, he loves to remind me of things I can’t do after he has been corrected. And it is so precious how he has found a way to make can’t a two syllable word. I don’t know where he got his deep southern accent, his mom I guess, but certainly not from me. So I smile every time he looks at me so serious and informs me, “Daddy, you can’t do that.” And then he repeats softly, “you cay-ant.”
I was reading the Bible the other day. I have been trying desperately to get through the book of Isaiah in a reasonable amount of time while still grasping everything that it’s telling me. And I sometimes get frustrated. Why is it so hard to understand? Why am I re-reading verses and chapters so many times? Normally, reading is my great skill. A quick glance at most texts and I’ve got the information. Isaiah is not that way at all.
In my frustration, I said aloud, “God, why is this so hard?” My son’s voice blared in my ear “You cay-ant daddy.”
I thought to myself, “I can’t what?”
And then, a different voice, sounding much more like my own, whispered an answer to me: “You can’t understand this.”
I thought aloud, “God, are you trying to tell me something? If so, I’m all ears.”
And then came the answer. “You can’t read this like any other book and hope to understand it. This isn’t a good book or a history book or a fiction book. This is My word. Seek Me if you want to know what it means.”
Later, in speaking with my dad on the subject he reminded me of the apostle Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 2:14, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
I don’t want this to sound strange or scary to you but I want to divulge the secret that God was showing me: Without Him and His Holy Spirit, the Bible is just a book that we’ll never fully comprehend.
Imagine having a relationship with JK Rowling so that you could ask her what she was thinking as she wrote Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. And imagine if she was in the room as you read and made clear every sentence, and more, how those sentences applied to you, and to the time it was written in, and to the time that we live in today. I bet even the foremost scholar on Harry Potter would gain an infinitely greater understanding of the text in that scenario. Now multiply that to the ends of the universe and that’s how we should be reading the Bible and relating with its divine author. And when we do, he’ll unlock truths that have been a mystery since the foundation of the world. That’s hard to fathom but it is absolutely true.
So if you’ve ever read the Bible and felt confused, you’re not alone. As my son would say, reading it by yourself, you can’t. Everyone should feel confused as they read it and that’s why we turn our questions over to the author. As He says in The Gospel of Luke, “Everyone who asks receives and everyone who seeks finds.” And for me, thats the most comforting thought of all. That He cares enough for me to show me and that even though I can’t, He can. And more importantly, he promised that he will!
I have a feeling that the book of Isaiah is about to get a whole lot clearer.