In this series I am sharing some of the passages of the Bible — or Life Verses — that have most impacted my own life.
I was 21 years old. I was in the honeymoon period of my newfound faith. I can still remember how exciting it was reading my new Study Bible back then. Everything was new. I had highlighter in hand. Underlining relevant passages. Pondering remarkable truths.
I get emotional pulling out that old Bible from back then, and remembering the moment I first underlined this or that passage. God was speaking to me. I was reading His love letters and falling deeper in love with my Savior.
Over time, the longer you are a Christian, the more familiar the Bible becomes. This is a double edge sword. While familiarity with God’s truth is certainly a wonderful thing, it does come with one drawback: overfamiliarity. Dallas Willard warns us of the problem when certain biblical truths become too familiar. “The major problem,” says Willard, “is precisely over-familiarity. Familiarity breeds unfamiliarity, and then contempt.”
Contempt is a pretty strong word. Maybe he overstated his case a bit. But I am convinced that too many believers are carrying around a small paper bag of half-believed, inch-deep Christian cliches they are reaching for to navigate life and faith. Many of us are content to splash around in the kitty pool of faith rather than plumbing the depths of this Christian life and the life-transforming power available to us. We give lip-service to many Christian truths but don’t truly let them shape and guide our actual lives and decisions.
But then there are those moments. Epiphanies. Ahas!
Sometimes God cuts through the fog and gets our full attention. Sometimes the coin drops into the slot and we finally get it. There are those rare moments when we’re taken up onto the mountain and get a glimpse of Jesus all aglow. We get a passing glance of God’s backside as his glory passes by. Every once in a while we might hear God say to us what he said to peter, “Blessed are you! Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in Heaven” (Matt. 16:17).
Romans 8:11 was one of those illuminating mountain top revelations that took my breath away.
It was so powerful that I still remember where I was sitting, what time of day it was, how the lamp light was shining on my Bible, and where the underlined and highlighted portion is positioned in my old Bible I haven’t used in years (left column on the right hand page near the top). It reads:
“Moreover if the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will also make your mortal bodies alive through his Spirit who lives in you” (Romans 8:11).
Don’t pass over that quickly. Hover over it for a bit. Contemplate what is actually being said. What if this is really true? What if we have that kind of power available to us? Not just to us, but living inside us somehow? This is crazy talk! If we dare to actually tap into this reality, there’s no telling how it could change our perspective on our life!
Listen: The very same Spirit that hovered over the deep before the creation of the world, and then spoke and the world leapt into existence, that’s the Spirit living inside of us now! The very same Spirit that made a mockery of death and hell, and rolled away the stone on the third day is now dwelling inside us, ready to roll away the stones in our hearts! The same Spirit that came down like a mighty rushing wind at Pentecost is rushing through our bones and empowering us to do God’s work!
After pondering this truth, I was forever changed. This single verse would forever change the way….
- I faced my fears.
- I looked at impossible situations.
- I viewed my own weaknesses and limitations.
- I approached death.
- I viewed risk-taking.
- I strive to overcome sinful habits.
And so much more.
Seriously, how can the mind blowing truth packed into this single verse not change everything if we really let it sink in?
Here’s an exercise for you to try today. Think of some big concern, issue, fear, or obstacle you’re facing right now in your life. Now, pray this prayer:
“Dear God, if it is true that the very same powerful Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is living in me, then I am confident that I can face ______________________________ with your help. Amen.”
I pray you experience what I experienced that moment I first read this verse back in my apartment at Fountain Terrace, New Brighton, some 15 years ago. This Life Verse certainly proved “powerful and effective, sharper than a two-edged sword” (Heb. 4:12). Thank you Lord for the life-changing truth packed into Romans 8:11.