Be diligent to present yourself approved to God,
a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth
(2 Timothy 2:15, NKJV).
From the very day I first became a believer, I had a voracious appetite for the Word of God. I read it every chance I got, and to be honest, I thought I knew it well. Compared to many, I suppose I did. But the test came one day about fifteen years into my Christian walk when I went on a very different sort of ministry visit than my usual.
I had already been involved in prison ministry at that point, in that I’d gone into some major prisons with a national prison ministry group. Because I was approved as part of the group, I was able to carry my Bible inside, as were the others. But one day I found myself going into the county jail to visit with an individual prisoner, and suddenly everything changed.
I walked into the jail and signed in, telling them who it was I wanted to visit. I answered all the necessary questions, and when they gave me their stamp of approval, I turned—Bible in hand—and proceeded to the sally port to enter the visitor waiting room.
“Wait a minute!” The voice of the woman who had just interviewed me called me back. “You can’t take that in there.”
I frowned. Can’t take what? All I had was my Bible. I’d locked my purse in the car, knowing I couldn’t bring that with me. But my Bible? Was she serious?
Apparently she was because I had to leave my Bible behind before I could proceed with my visit. Panic set in at the thought. What was the point of the visit? I’d come to talk to the prisoner about Christ, and how could I effectively do that without a copy of the Scriptures in my hand?
You have them in your heart.
I knew the source of that voice, and I knew the words were true. I’d been reading the Bible every day for more than fifteen years. But would I remember the appropriate verses when I needed them?
That’s my job, the voice reminded me. You have studied my Word and hidden my message in your heart. I will bring the right words to your remembrance when you need them.
And, of course, He did. But oh, what a lesson in trust! I had seldom gone anywhere—and certainly not on any sort of ministry venture—without a physical copy of the Scriptures in my hand (a good practice, by the way). But that trip to the jail re-enforced in me the need to continue to hide God’s Word in my heart daily. The Lord is faithful to bring His Word to remembrance, but first we must read and study and memorize it so He can then draw from our reserves.
God is faithful, wherever we are and in whatever circumstances we find ourselves, but we must be faithful too. If we have put God’s Word deep within us, it will be there when we need it—even if we can’t physically carry it in our hands.