My Daily Light
By Madelyn Ferris
In the early 90s, I was invited to go on the Women’s Emmaus Walk, a weekend of fun, food, and spiritual refreshment. As part of the weekend, there were 15 short talks on various topics; the one I didn’t know I hungered for was how to take a deeper dive into the Word through study.
I grew up in the Baptist church which meant a lot of Sunday School, Bible School, and church most weeks. Despite my background, as an adult believer, I had felt a yearning to know “more,” even if I didn’t know what “more” was or how to get it. The Bible actually asks that we establish a daily habit of study, being in The Word with the purpose, as Paul tells us in Romans 12:2, of being transformed through the renewal of our mind. I had been faithful in church attendance and fulfilling religious duties, and still not really feeling “changed.” Perhaps this accounted for my pre-Emmaus restlessness; maybe this was God’s tug on my heart.
I remember earnestly wishing to be transformed in ways that really mattered and now I had a place to begin. The speaker suggested authors, topics, classic writers in history – the whole ball of wax. I left the weekend armed with a “to do” list and a yellow highlighter. I was already a voracious reader; this was going to be easy. But it turns out, it’s not, because there are So. Many. Choices; the perfectionist in me left me paralyzed, unable to begin.
God led me to the Christian bookstore where the choices got broken down into manageable categories, thank goodness. While there, a kind sales associate sensed my indecision and made even those choices less overwhelming. I left with a devotional and a list of authors who have become good friends of mine during this journey. In hindsight, I wasn’t ready for the challenge of C.S. Lewis, but John Ortberg and Max Lucado suited me just fine. At the same time, singing certain lyrics in praise team got me curious about their origin; it was scripture all right, but it was as if I had never heard it before. I was now “hearing” the Bible with a new perspective and a song in my heart. My children introduced me to The Message; a friend began a new job and that’s where I learned about the Bible app, YouVersion. Little by little, “study” became more than just checking a list of books off my list; it was listening (podcasts), sharing (Lifegroup), growing (patience), and feeling increased joy with each new find.
It turns out that my mother in law, Barb, gifted to me the book that has become my “go to” devotional – Daily Light by Anne Graham Lotz. Every page of themed scripture seems like it is saying exactly what I need to hear. Now that she’s gone, I am so grateful for Barb’s devotion to study and her faithful influence in my life.
The spiritual life through the discipline of study is really just examining our lives from God’s perspective. Because He intends to redeem us; make us new creatures.This is the hope of transformation. As Soren Kierkegaard said, “Now, with God’s help, I shall become myself.”
After all, ‘if we cannot be transformed, we will settle for being informed or conformed.” I don’t want to settle. I want to have authentic love: for God, His people and myself. Working on it.
He that studies only men, will get the body of knowledge without the soul; and he that studies only books, the soul without the body. He that to what he sees, adds observation, and to what he reads, reflection, is in the right road to knowledge, provided that in scrutinizing the hearts of others, he neglects not his own.
Write this way: This week, ask a trusted friend or two if they have a favorite devotional (or an extra one on their bookshelves that you can borrow). Check out the titles and authors a bit to get a feel for what suits you personally. There is no wrong way to engage in study; just begin and be blessed.
About the Author:
Madelyn Ferris is a member of Commonway and previously served on the Elder Board. Madelyn holds degrees from Ball State and Indiana University and has been with Paws, Inc. over 35 years. She and husband, Dwight, are enjoying their new granddaughter and thankful that another is on the way!