Take and Read!

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires.

Romans 13:14

One of the greatest theologians of the Christian church is St. Augustine of Hippo. His voluminous writings, including The City of God and Confessions, have had a vast influence on Christians for fifteen centuries.

Augustine did not become a follower of Christ until he was in his thirties. As a young man, he freely indulged his sexual appetites even as he exercised his vast intellect. Yet the faithful prayers of his mother worked on Augustine’s heart. He came to the place of realizing that his life was lost without God, but he felt trapped in his wanton lifestyle. In desperation, he found a private place in a garden, where he begged God to forgive him and set him free. All of a sudden, he heard a nearby child chanting: “Take and read. Take and read” (tolle, lege in Latin). Believing this to be a message from God, Augustine found a copy of the Bible and flipped it open randomly. The first words he read were: “Don’t participate in the darkness of wild parties and drunkenness, or in sexual promiscuity and immoral living, or in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires” (Rom. 13:13b-14). In this moment, Augustine received God’s grace and gave his life to the Lord. In his words: “For instantly, as the sentence ended, there was infused in my heart something like the light of full certainty and all the gloom of doubt vanished away” (Augustine, Confessions, 8.12.29).

Ironically, Augustine turned out to be not only one of the most influential theologians of the church, but also one of her most competent interpreters of Scripture. Yet God used the “flip method” and a simple reading to transform Augustine’s life. The Word of God has the potential to do the same in our lives, again and again.

As you know, I don’t generally approach the Bible with a “flip method” strategy, nor do I recommend it as a primary means of spiritual discernment. But whether you open the Bible to any random passage, or whether you are working along with me passage by passage, the most important thing is that we “Take and read.” If, like Augustine, we approach God’s Word with an open and eager heart, he will speak to us, teaching us, correcting us, healing us, leading us, and renewing us.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Have you ever had an experience like that of Augustine, where you turned randomly to a biblical passage that God used powerfully in your life? What encourages you to read the Bible? What gets in the way of your faithful Bible reading?

PRAYER: Gracious Heavenly Father, how I thank you for your grace given to Augustine. In his moment of desperation, you spoke to him through your Word. You changed his heart and his life. Thank you for meeting Augustine where he was and for reaching out to him in such an unusual and surprising way. How good you are!

Father, though I don’t think you want me to approach your Word simply with the “flip method,” I do know that I should “Take and read.” Help me to be faithful in my Bible reading, both for daily devotions, for study, and for faithfulness in doing that which you have called me to do in my work. May I read your Word! May I know it, devour it, reflect upon it, and obey it! As this happens, may I grow in my relationship with you.

All praise be to you, Gracious God, for making yourself known to us in Scripture! Amen.