For several years I worked on a book, Stirring the Deep. As I enquired, what now Lord? God told me, “Rachel, people don’t need another book. They need THE book, the Bible. Lead them to read my Words, the words of life.” Now that may seem disheartening, but it actually wasn’t but exciting.
We’ve all been encouraged and inspired by the words of others. It’s a sweet fellowship to connect to another through their words. But now more than ever, God desires us to come to Him in a very intimate way, not through middle men and women (leaders, pastors, writers, etc). God is calling us to abide in a rich deep union with Him, one-on-one. He is revealing Himself to those who are seeking Him with all their heart, soul and mind in powerful and personal ways. It’s an extraordinary time. It’s time to remove all that hinders and dive in deep into Him.
Books, like teachers and pastors, can often impede the development of our intimacy with God when we lean on them when we should be dependent on God. Books can be encouraging and enlightening. God uses others in our lives in many ways. However, we can easily depend on them when we should be depending on God. That is what happened to me.
Years ago, the majority of books on my bookshelves were self-improvement, Christian and non-Christian. I wanted deliverance, healing and to be the woman I envisioned. I figured the knowledge in those books would take me as they seemed to promise. Reading them was exhilarating, uplifting, and motivating, but it was more of an emotional high then anything substantial happening in me. After I had been reading the Bible for a couple of years, the spirit prompted me to get rid of all those books. For the next couple of years, they were expunged from my life. I didn’t read one. At the time, I didn’t fully know the reasons why or the impact it would have, but I knew it had to do something with learning to abide and trust in God’s Word first and foremost, which it absolutely did and more.
During that time of solitary focus, I developed a solid foundation with God and on His Word. It became my source of truth. It opened me up to a powerful communion between me and God. It imploded truth into my life. As the years passed of abiding in His Word getting to know God, the deliverance I sought (often in those books) started to come. I wasn’t abiding in God’s Word to be healed, but that is exactly what happened. I wanted to get to know, draw close to Him. But the healing came and it wasn’t just the healing, but abiding in His Word started to affect EVERYTHING in my life. That difference fueled my passion in writing a book about it. I wanted to share what I discovered with others.
Removing those books from my life revealed my dependency on them. I realized how much I was seeking deliverance from those human writers. I believed reading their words was a sufficient replacement for reading the Word. I thought truth was truth. But reading God’s Word isn’t just about gathering knowledge it’s about cultivating a relationship, a relationship with God. In that relationship your life truly changes; not because of your efforts but because of His presence and promises at work in your life. Nothing can replace that dynamic.
At first it was hard (though I knew those books weren’t “working”), because those books were easier to read and more straight forward. And I was so use to thinking that is what you do. But they are the words of man. Though they may have been expressing God’s truth, they weren’t God’s words. They lacked the power of what dwelling in His pure Word trusting His Spirit to teach you imparts.
A couple years later, I picked up my first Christian book. I couldn’t believe the contrast! It had good content that back in the day I would have been reveling in. The writer spoke truths of God that He had taught me early that year. It was incredible. But what stood out to me is how the author’s words paled in comparison to what I received from the Word – which was powerful beyond my expectations. To fully understand the difference, you have to experience it. The gap between abiding in God’s Word verses someone else’s is enormous. Why would we settle for human words when we have His?
It’s easy to become dependent on others, whether authors, preachers, teachers, and/or leaders, when we should be on God. But this dependency makes them into an idol. And often we don’t realize our dependency until they are removed from our lives. If we don’t have a dependency, then we can live without them and God is more than enough.
Putting away those books was one of the best actions I took for my relationship with God. Previously, it was like I in a marriage with my husband and everyone else and often spending much more time with everyone else. When it is just you and God, the intimacy gained is astounding. This is why abiding in the Word of God alone during your quiet time is so critical. Give sole attention to God, and read those other books at another time. Give Him all of your attention, the attention He deserves. You may feel you get more from the other books so that you need them, but that is because you truly haven’t experienced a deep intimacy with God that is far greater. Allow time for that intimacy to develop. It isn’t instant. Though it may be tough at first because you are use to those other voices, if you can stick with it – it will reap tremendous benefits. Then when you do read another’s book, it’s a sweet fellowship, not dependency.
I’ve been reading, So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore by Wayne Jacobsen and Dave Coleman. It’s a good book. It resonates with much of what God has taught me over the past couple of years. I enjoy the way the writers state aspects of God’s truth. But reading the truths these two men have learned doesn’t replace me learning those truths from God. When we learn from Him, He changes us and it becomes our truth. We don’t want to exchange the intimacy we could be gaining with God by being reliant on others’ experiences of God – it’s a grave loss.
As for my book, it was a tremendous time of healing, renewal, learning and growing. God used my writing to focus my mind on the truths He was teaching me in His Word. It laid the foundation for what I do today and probably will do in the future. It laid the foundation for passion I have in helping others cultivate a real relationship with God. I wouldn’t change those years spent writing for anything.
My passion isn’t for people to read my book, but to read God’s book for it’s a fountain of life. And not to read it like a text book, but to dive into its pages as you would spend time with a loved one to cultivate a deep relationship. I’ve learned the difference between man’s words verses God’s Word – I want you to have the very best and to abide in His for there is where the power lies.
We only obtain a relationship with God if we start talking and listening to Him ourselves; not from reading about another’s journey with God but living our own.
Psalm 138:2 I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.