I’ve been trying to follow Jesus since I was 16, and am 26 now, which means I’ve been reading God’s Word fairly consistently over the past 10 years. I’m grateful that I have been consistently taught since I first came to faith that to follow after Christ means getting to know him through his Word. If you’re like me, you often misread or misapply the Bible. For instance, in high school when I first became a believer I completely missed the real meaning of Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” You don’t have to be in church very long to hear that one. I had taken it to mean, “if I want to excel in sports, I can through Jesus.” I thought that, with a little help from God, I could essentially do whatever I wanted.
I can vividly remember running sprints at basketball practice my junior year of high school. You know, the first practice back from Christmas break when you realize that you had too much Christmas ham and a few too many pieces of mom’s pie. As I was on the verge of throwing up, I would quote this verse to myself, “I can do all things through Christ to who gives me strength, I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength, I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”
Now, saying those words over and over probably helped take my mind off of the pain I was going through, but it wasn’t an “Abracadabra” verse that caused God to bend his will to mine. In the same way, as a 5’ 7”, 160 pound kid, I couldn’t dunk the basketball or bench press twice my weight simply by claiming that verse. My understanding of God was off. But even then, God gives grace.
As the Holy Spirit schooled me, I eventually came to find out that this well-known verse gives me better understanding for how to handle life as it comes at me. The Apostle Paul who wrote the book of Philippians, wrote it in a completely different context than how I was reading it. “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
You see, what I had done, and still do from time to time, is taken God’s perfect word and applied it imperfectly to my life. Now, that doesn’t mean we should quit reading the Bible if we don’t understand it right away, but rather we should do the opposite. We need to keep reading Scripture, keep seeking the LORD, keep asking the Holy Spirit to reveal his truth to us, and keep learning from other Bible teachers. And as we journey through classes, and work, sports and activities, relationships and hobbies, remember, when life is tough, when the temptation to sin is strong, when everything around you is falling apart, or when everything seems to be running smoothly, you can do all things through Christ who supplies your strength. He deserves our trust. He is worthy to be prized and praised above all else
So lets look to Jesus together as we do this thing called life.