It’s an inspiring, stirring thing to watch him battle past the very elements that were bent on choking the life from him.
And have you also noticed that choking scenes show up in nearly every action film? Invariably, there is a scene where the good guy and the bad guy start grappling on the ground, each looking to strangle the other. In some versions of these choking scenes one of the assailants holds a knife and attempts to slowly drive it through his opponent’s temple.
But whether it involves knives or knuckles, there is a predictable moment in every action flick when the hero gets choked.
The same is true in your life.
In Mark 4 Jesus warns us that the worries and cares of this life would love nothing more than to throw a full nelson chokehold around our necks and slowly suffocate us. He goes on to tell us that if we fail to break free from their grip, the very word of God can be stolen away.
It’s important that we push back. It could save our spiritual lives to remember that busyness, stress, and overcrowded schedules are not merely annoying inconveniences—they’re chokeholds bent on strangling our life and suffocating our word.
Let’s be Prince Phillip. Do you remember what his sword was called? The fairies named his weapon, “the Sword of Truth” and with it he struck back, choking the very things that wanted to choke him. Let’s take charge of our lives and do the same.
She sure is right isn’t she? Painful words can hit us like sledgehammers, leaving us dazed, broken, and confused. We want to cry, defend, and lash out all at once, and when there is a seeming indifference in the offender, it’s even worse. A spoken word can make us feel physically ill.
In those–and other–times of great pain and misunderstanding it is helpful to remember that pain can be an engraver’s tool that carves our life message a little more deeply into our soul.
When I feel mistreated, I vow to treat others well.
When I’m forced to carry the sting of rejection, I commit to never inflicting that sting.
As long as we don’t carry this too far and begin living our whole lives out of reactionary postures, this reflective vowing can serve us well. It can help us identify the kind of person we do and don’t want to be. It can remind us of the way we want others to feel in our presence, and it can bring our personal core values into a little sharper focus.
Mistreatment shines a spotlight on appropriate treatment, and it creates an opportunity for us to run toward that light.
Pain is inevitable, so let’s bear it cleanly, without letting it stain and soil our soul. Let’s take it to the cross of Jesus Christ and “Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that (we) will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:3)
It’s the most incredible book ever written—so simple a child can understand it, yet so vast that theologians will grapple with it for a lifetime.
It’s filled with poetry…suspense…romance…foul play…espionage… murder… treachery…carnage…courage…nobility…benevolence…brutality…and the heart of God.
It shows the ugly, repulsive side of human nature as well as the kind of honor and selflessness that stirs your soul and inspires you to give your life away for a great cause.
There’s also a personal, interactive element to it that convinces you that the God who created the heavens and the earth knows YOU. Centuries before you were born, God took so much interest in you that He inspired a book that would contain the specific wisdom that you need today.
Sometimes though, the vastness and complexity of the Bible can discourage would-be Bible readers so here are a few suggestions to help us get started:
- Ask the Lord to help you fall in love with the Bible. Psalm 119:18 says, “Open my eyes that I might see wonderful things out of your law.”
- Follow a Bible reading schedule. It helps you read widely and systematically.
- Get a Bible that you find aesthetically pleasing. Today, in the 21st century we’re not limited to reading the Scriptures on scrolls or sheets of papyrus—get a Bible that you like.
- Write in your Bible. Record your thoughts, questions, and insights.
- Find your spot—a peaceful, comforting place where you regularly engage in Bible reading and study.
- Follow the S.O.A.P. model. Out of a 30-minute Bible reading session, identify one Scripture, Observation, and Application that you can turn into a short, personal Prayer.
- Read the red and pray for the power. One of my Bible college teachers used to say “Read the red—the words of Jesus Christ in the Gospels—and pray for the power of God to fill your life.”
- Finally…read the book like He wrote it to you. Because He did.