Have you ever listened to your own recorded voice? And then thought how you sound way different than you thought you did, possibly disappointed.
If I want to, I can turn on my charm or my sense of humour, but my voice is fixed. And sometimes I wish it were deeper, as I’m a dude. One guy who doesn’t have that problem is David Suchet.
I have never watched any of the episodes of a particular whodunnit featuring Hercule Poirot, a Belgian detective created in literary fiction by the legendary Agatha Christie. I knew of the actor and thespian David Suchet (who portrays Poirot) from one of my favourite action movies in the DVD cabinet, ‘Executive Decision’.
In that particular movie, Suchet plays with alarming creepiness, a mesmerizing terrorist leading the hijack of an airplane. Easily his most formidable feature is his voice. And his excessively hairy arms.
As Suchet tells it in an interview, he was irreligious, but didn’t know what to do with the passing of his grandfather, with whom he had been close. Thinking about the question of life after death – which Suchet didn’t believe in at the time – he decided to read Scripture. This in a hotel room in Seattle in 1986.
Now the article does’t say, but the question occurs to me…where might an irreligious fellow in a hotel room acquire Scripture? Perhaps the Gideons? Suchet began to read Paul’s letter to the Romans and upon reading the eighth chapter that was when he found faith.
No fancy Christian movie, no contemporary Christian song, simply reading Scripture.
There have been times when I have been floored after reading a verse or a passage, but no recent time that I can think of. Recently, I started watching a Louie Giglio series called ‘Breath on a page’. He begins from the verse about all Scripture being inspired:
There are a lot of books out there in the world. Some are there for entertainment, some for instruction (like how to do something), but the author always wants to take us to a conclusion using words. Scripture is the only book God wrote, and it is alive.
Giglio’s first sermon out of the gate has the setting from Nehemiah chapter 8.
To set the scene, Nehemiah wanted to rebuild Jerusalem as the people had been carried away into captivity and the city was defenceless. Having asked permission from the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, where Nehemiah was also in exile, he set out to rebuild Jerusalem, first organizing some fellow exiles to rebuild the wall, and soon thereafter to gather in a city square to listen to Scripture being read by Ezra the priest from first light until noon.
They were a people of the Book, who needed to be reacquainted with what it said.
The people listening to the Bible being read had a notable reaction: they wept, because they realized they had not been living according to what Scripture said. That’s because Scripture is living and active. They had no option but to change the way they had been living.
Scripture plus a human heart plus the Holy Spirit is a reaction. Without Scripture or the Holy Spirit, my spiritual life is inert.
This week it rained and I was thinking about Giglio’s sermon and the plants back at home that were receiving the rain and I remembered this verse:
God’s word is alive and is like rain that causes sprouting and growing wherever it falls.
The Harry Potter series is not alive. The Qur’an is not alive. The Communist Manifesto is not alive. The latest John Grisham legal drama may be entertaining, but it is just words on a page. Not alive. Not breath. Not God’s breath.
God’s word is breath on a page leading to a change in the human heart.
And yet I’m preaching at myself here a little…there are levels to interacting with Scripture:
- first reading it, then
- second meditating on it, then
- lastly applying it.
Sitting down, knuckling under and reading Scripture is comparatively easy (you can do it on your Smart-phone). Skim reading is one thing, its quite another to meditate on Scripture, to mull over it and let it brew like a tea bag left in the cup and swished around by the spoon. Its even more difficult to take the next step and after having meditated on Scripture, to be diligent about applying it.
Honestly, I struggle often with simply booking some time to simply just read Scripture. I haven’t opened my big Bible since Sunday and its now Saturday. You might say – in a poor attempt at a joke – that I’ve been ‘phoning it in’, reading short verses on the Smart-phone.
Which is why church is so essential, you get to make time, open up your big Bible, and sit under its teaching. Kind of like what Ezra and Nehemiah did all those years ago. Good ideas always work, whether in Nehemiah’s time or now.