We Can’t Unread

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;.. the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.” Hebrews 4:12; Psalm 19:7-10

I recently read an article about David Brooks, New York Times columnist for well over a decade, on his journey of faith. I was struck by a quote from his new book: “Celestial grandeur is found in the Beatitudes… I can’t unread Matthew.” It is true that the inspired word of God, written in the same language with words from the same 26 alphabet letters by which we read all else, is alive and gets inside us, piercing to penetrate our souls and uncover, expose our deep heart motivations and inclinations. What we read, we may forget, but we cannot unread, and God’s word never returns void but always accomplishes that for which it was intended. The God of providence is the God of truth that does not fail, and the God of sovereign might Who always fulfills His divine purposes. (Isaiah 14:24; 55:11)


Why would I not “tolle lege,” take up and read, this beautiful, powerful word of God? St. Augustine, after years of wanton rebellion, heard a voice call this divine command to take up the Bible and read, and the words of Romans convicted him unto salvation and a changed life. It will do the same for us. When we look into the holy word, we find a feast. In reading, I often feel the same as the character Kya from Delia Owens’ Where the Crawdads Sing: “I wasn’t aware that words could hold so much, I didn’t know a sentence could be so full.” 

Brooks found himself in a place where he was “unplanted, lonely, humiliated, scattered.” Am I? Where do I need change, or do I desire it? A softer more forgiving heart, a fresh perspective, more patience, more zeal, greater self-discipline, richer grace, deeper love for others, less complaining, less greed, less gluttony? Where do I flag in hope, or vision, or inspiration? O soul, read the word! It can’t be unread, and will certainly, eventually, have its way in us! Brooks’ “continued journey of exploration” can be ours, too, as we delve into this good and holy Book and make our own the treasure trove of golden truth God offers there. Brooks found there “another anchor,” and we can too– the hope that is found in Jesus alone. (Hebrews 6:19)

My God, Word become flesh, draw me to tolle lege Your living word today, to drink in its sustenance, see by its light, live by its power. May I read, with no unreading, so it has its full way of grace and truth in me. (John 1:1,14)



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