It came as an unexpected question on Christmas eve morning, but a nevertheless welcome one. Like a simply wrapped package tucked in a hidden corner under the tree, bearing that one gift you never knew you wanted.
“How do you read the Bible? I never owned or read the Bible growing up, because they didn’t teach us that in public school.”
Could this be true? My grandmother just asked me about reading the Bible. I was still cramming my Christmas card-writing and gift-wrapping, but when God presents such a gilded moment complete with a red velvet bow, you drop everything to receive it.
Truth be told, I was caught off-guard. No one had asked me before. How would I respond to this seemingly random, yet perfectly timed question?
I tell her the Bible is God’s Word. He speaks to us directly, to anyone who would listen. He reveals Himself and His plans for us, to anyone who would seek in faith. He set us on the right path with His Truth, to anyone who would trust in Him.
Simply put, God’s love letter to us as He draws us closer into a relationship with Him. We read it with a desire to go deeper into that relationship.
And in my heart, I asked that God do the rest.
There was one gift that I eagerly anticipated in the run up to Christmas. My water baptism on the 17th of December. The very moment of immersion went by so quickly, but it was the culmination of a journey of 33 years that took a different turn in the last three.
I think of that Ethiopian eunuch traveling by chariot in the desert, struggling with the words of the prophet Isaiah and seeking guidance (Acts 8: 26-38). After coming to the realisation of who Jesus is, He asked the God-sent Philip, “What prevents me from being baptised?”.
And many times, I asked myself that same question. For someone who had known and believed in God her whole life, it was one thing to understand with my head, and another to accept it completely in my heart.
When the truth of God’s word truly pierced my heart, I was certain to whom I belonged. Even as God gives this gift of new life freely, it requires something of us that we might have it fully. It would take turning my back on my sinful, self-consumed, proud, relationship-obsessed ways.
No longer just a historic account, or an impressive literary tome, God’s word could begin the work of transformation it was meant for. As I was submerged in the water, I was buried to leave behind all sin and idols. Then coming up from the water, it symbolised Jesus’ resurrection and my rising again to new life.
This was the truth of what happened in my life—what Christ’s salvation has done for me (the details another story)—that I could not help but be baptised and let this Truth be known.
On Christmas eve morning, I received another early gift, the image that will be seared in my memory. My grandmother, Mamita as we fondly call her, seated near the front door, my bible in her hands, angling for light to aid her reading.
Just a week shy of her 92nd birthday, I gifted Mamita with her first Bible. She promises to read it every day. We live in different continents, but I’d like to keep her in prayer, as she makes her own journey in getting to know God in new ways.
On Christmas evening, when everyone had gone to bed, I sat by the soft glow of lights on my tiny tree. I pondered on what this Christmas meant, and I was led to a powerful statement that Jesus made toward the end of His earthly life.
“You say rightly that I am a King. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.”
John 18: 37
We all take different paths, but we all come to our personal moment of truth when God’s inescapable glory and truth is revealed to us. The moment when that Truth draws us to Him, and we respond to His love and receive His mercy so that we are forever changed. And it is a Truth so enduring, a grace so amazing, that we are compelled to share this gift with others.