Strategy 119: Spiritual Rehab in 3 Simple Steps

Often, when pressed hard enough, the devoted life - the life of faith - is the first thing that suffers. At times it is abandoned altogether.

 

It is not enough therefore to read and talk of it only, but we must also desire God day and night instantly to open our eyes, and to make us understand and feel why the Scripture was given, that we may apply the medicine of the Scripture, every man to his own sores . . . So now the Scripture is a light and shows us the true way, both what to do and what to hope.

- William Tyndale, A Prologue Showing the Use of the Scripture [From the Tyndale Old Testament, 1531]

Living a godly life is anything but easy, even in more certain times. But the times are anything but certain. Often, when pressed hard enough, the devoted life - the life of faith - is the first thing that suffers. At times it is abandoned altogether. The result is a life out of center, out of plumb, a life isolated, adrift at some distance from God. Whether that distance is great or small, it is a life void of peace.

Not very long ago I found myself in this condition.

Is there medication? Yes, there is.

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Psalm 119 has 176 verses, divided into 22 sections according to the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Each section has 8 verses. My thought was this: I will read one section a day, eight verses a day for the next 22 days. That was it. That was my strategy. Doesn’t sound like much does it? Other than the eight verses a day, and speaking them loud enough to hear myself, there was no rule.

It was not an exercise. It was not a Bible study. I was certainly not gathering material for another book. It was survival. And I advanced upon the Word with the kind of violence Scripture seems to condone and encourage. All the good medicines of the Word were loosed and activated in my behalf. It has a warm and charitable heart.

The result? My first love became my first love again. The change was, and is, irrevocable. I somehow knew that. There was no bridge to cross back over, no horror to relive, no private screening of some past violation.

Reading Scripture is not always about understanding what you read. It is a living exchange, and like any successful relationship it demands submission and mutual regard, the warm mechanics of good dialogue. It is never one-sided. You must engage at close range. And you must leave some part of yourself open to scrutiny.

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David Teems
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