The blank wall in our backyard was unremarkable for years. We had ideas for how to spruce it up, but never seemed to find the time. And then one spring afternoon, my husband got inspired. Returning from a trip to the hardware store, he set to work installing small bolts up the wall at evenly spaced intervals. Once he finished, he uncoiled a spool of wire and wound it around each bolt. By the time he was finished, we had a perfect grid ready for a vine.
Strategically digging holes at the base of the latticework, we nestled tiny plants into them. After a few months, they began to grow tall enough for my husband to wind the small tendrils around the wire, training them to attach to it and grow upwards. At first the latticework looked a little lonely and bare, but over time the lush foliage filled in. Now, five years later, the once bare wall is the most noteworthy aspect of our yard. Getting it to look that way took time, patience, and discipline (for which I can take no credit whatsoever).
Every few weeks, new growth and foliage need to be pulled from the wall and either trimmed off or wound around the wire to continue the upward growth. Without human intervention, the wall would be a messy jumble of shoots and leaves with no pattern. It would be unruly and undisciplined.
For some reason, a picture of our latticework wall came to mind as I read a question in Beth Moore’s Entrusted Bible study this week. At the close of Week 1, Day 1, she asks readers “What brings you to your side of this page”? In other words, why are you doing this study?
If my life was that vine growing up our wall, then God’s Word is what keeps me tethered to the wire when I want to stray out on my own. It helps me to keep a vertical focus so that my worldview, actions and attitudes come from God and not from the standards of our ever-changing culture. Consistently engaging in Bible study for most of my life has allowed healthy patterns to emerge and God’s handiwork to show in my life. His Word grounds me in truth when the world bombards me with lies. It is a firm foundation in unsteady times. It is a plumb line that keeps my thoughts and perspectives aligned with God’s ways instead of the world’s. It is the mirror that shows me my true identity as God’s beloved child when I’m tempted to measure myself by the fickle standards of the world.
When I’m not fighting against Him; when I’m patient over the long haul; when I trust Him even when I don’t understand why He’s allowing a certain hardship– He can do beautiful things in and through me. He sees the whole picture where I see only a small part. He has laid out plans for me, intentionally going before me to stretch out the wires on the wall that beckon me to grow to heights I could never achieve on my own. As I allow His loving hands to wind the tendrils of my life around His latticework, I see that His ways are higher and better than mine.
For me, completing a study guide isn’t a task to be checked off a to do list. We call it “homework” at Bible study, but in reality it’s the gateway to life transformation and the thing that continually keeps my focus exactly where it belongs: on God. And that is what brings me back year after year.
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Colossians 3:1-2 (NIV)
“Word of Life” by Jeremy Camp is a song that celebrates Jesus as the Word that became flesh and the truth found in God’s Word. Click on the link to hear it.