In a Benedictine monastery in New Norcia, there’s a rundown hall older than I am. It isn’t open to the public but as a guest, I was invited to view the ancient frescoes which decorated the walls.
As we stood under a mural depicting ‘hope’, an elderly monk began to share with me one of his favorite verses. He started and then paused. “Had he forgotten it, was he translating it in his head or had he stopped to once again ponder its significance?” I wondered as I stood and waited. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the latter. Ever since he shared it with me, I’ve not stopped pondering it.
“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us. So that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” – Romans 5:14(NIV/ NLT)
The word for encouragement here is a special word. It has the sense of calling you near: to inspire or exhort you (like a coach), to comfort or console you (like a good friend), to encourage you with good news (like an advocate or attorney). There is an intimate quality to the word of God that transcends all other writings. It can judge, instruct, correct and rebuke. And it can exhort, comfort and encourage.
This is where deep calls to deep. The Spirit of God using the Word of God, to minister deep into our hearts. When he speaks, his whisper is so clear and his message so precisely attuned to our most intimate needs that we know He is right here with us.
Walking along the beach one night, I was enjoying the balmy breeze on the outside and the intimate encouragement of God’s word on the inside. It started me thinking, “If I could describe the ministry of the word with the same language you might use to describe the pleasantries of summer… how would I do that?” Well, the ministry of the word of God is like…