Treasure God's Word
Let me start by asking a question. If you were taken from your home and stripped of your possessions, what’s the one object you would take with you (if given the choice)?
One of my favorite books is The Heavenly Man. It’s the life of Brother Yun, a Chinese man who was raised during the Cultural Revolution. He was saved at the age of 16 and grew up in church that was led in homes and behind closed doors so as not to be seen or heard. I’ve never read a biography that touched me so deeply.
When Rick and I finished reading his story, we stood in the kitchen, with tears in our eyes, sharing how we are unable to relate to what it means to suffer for Christ. We may sacrifice in different ways, but the level of persecution he endured is beyond our comprehension.
He is a man who willingly endured unimaginable torture for the sake of the gospel. By the time I finished reading his book I was so stunned by all he endured that I vaguely remembered the details of how he obtained a Bible of his own; a book he had never seen.
What he knew of Jesus was from his mother and the elders. Few in the village knew what a Bible looked like. They taught what they could remember before Bibles were burned.
Brother Yun asked his mother if there were any more teachings of Jesus. She said, “No, all his words are gone. There is nothing left of his teaching.” Nowhere could a Bible be found (p. 26).
His mother heard of an older man who held in his possession some pages of scripture. They journeyed to his village, hoping to read scripture for themselves.
Upon arriving to the man’s home, they asked if they could see God’s Word. The man was taken back, fearful, and wouldn’t show them the few pages he had. He told the young lad, “The Bible is a Heavenly book. If you want one, you’ll need to pray to the God of Heaven.” Only God can provide you with the heavenly book. (p. 27)
He went home and began praying. Months passed and no Bible.
He went back to the man and told him he had been praying and still didn’t have a Bible. He pleaded with him, “I’ve prayed to God according to your instructions, but I still haven’t received the Bible I want so much. Please, please show me your Bible. Just a glance and I will be satisfied! I don’t need to touch it. You hold it and I will be content just to look at it. If I could copy down some of the words I will return home content.” (p. 28-29)
The man told him that it wasn’t enough to pray, he must fast and pray. Brother Yun went home and that day he began to do as the man instructed.
A hundred days into his fast, no Bible. In despair, but continuing to believe, he had a vision in which the Lord showed him two men coming to his door and bringing him bread. In the vision when he ate the bread it turned into a Bible. (p. 29)
It wasn’t long after his vision when two strangers appeared at his door, spoke the words he heard in his vision, and handed him “the bread;” his very own Bible.
“Brother Yun began to devour the Word of God. Even though he could hardly read, this did not deter him at all. When he had finished reading the entire Bible, he started to memorize one chapter per day. In 28 days, he had memorized the Gospel of Matthew. Then he went on to memorize the Book of Acts and so forth.” Brother Yun biography.
When I reread this part of his journey there was a detail I had forgotten. After all he had endured, almost tortured to death and on multiple occasions, he said the hundred day fast was the hardest thing he had ever endured.
It’s hard for me to grasp that fasting would be more difficult than physical pain. The thought of torture is unbearable.
I believe what he was destined to endure was made possible through his commitment to memorize the Word long before his sufferings began. He committed himself to reading the scriptures and writing them down for the Word of God to seep into his mind and soul for a day his Bible might be taken from him. And, it was.
When he was stripped of his rights, his Bible, he still had God’s word “hidden in his heart.” Psalm 119:105
It’s taken me years to have this kind of passion to devour the scriptures. Perhaps it’s because I live in a country where the gospel isn’t forbidden. I don’t have to close my curtains and turn off the lights to worship God.
I live in a country where most Christians own not one Bible, but two, or three; and in multiple translations. I can’t relate to his desire that I would be satisfied just to hold a few pages of the written Word of God.
When I’m at church I tend to use a Bible app to follow the pastor’s teachings. When I’m home I study my hardcover Bible. For me, there’s something noticeably different when I flip the pages of my Bible. Perhaps it’s the sound of the pages turning, or the fact that I can touch it in the way Brother Yun yearned for. “If I could just touch it.”
If I was taken from my home today and I could take one thing, without question, it would be my Bible. It wouldn’t be an e-Bible on my phone. I want to hold my old, worn out Bible filled with markings and crinkled pages. Every mark in my Bible is personal and reflects a moment in time when God spoke directly to me.
I pray I never have to choose between my family and my faith, but I also pray that I will always have access to the Word of God. If I choose my phone, the day may come I won’t be able to charge it, thus absent of the Word of God in my life. This possibility is also a reminder of the importance to memorize scripture.
I wonder how much strength Brother Yun would have been able to endure had he not memorized scripture. Would he have been able to stay the course for Jesus?
If I didn’t have access to the Word of God during the dark days of my life, I would have given up. But, I did have the Word with me and verses like Isaiah 40:29 encouraged me to stay the course. “He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.”
I can say unequivocally from experience, and as Brother Yun shows us, if you are going through trials and tribulations that are difficult to bear, you will find hope and endurance that comes from the Word of God. When we treasure the Word of God, our faith in God is unshaken. The richness of the Word in our hearts cannot be stolen.
Joshua 1:8-9 reminds us why it is important to memorize the Word.
“Don’t for a minute let this Book of The Revelation be out of mind. Ponder and meditate on it day and night, making sure you practice everything written in it. Then you’ll get where you’re going; then you’ll succeed. Haven’t I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take.” MSG
Devour the Word of God today and every day.
Thumbnail photo by Meditations