There are many ways to read a Bible passage. We can underline and circle and draw arrows to words that show more clearly what was intended by the writer. We can read what scholars have written about the passage to gain more information. We can make use of cross-references. We can read books and listen to sermons. And after we’ve studied well, we can meditatively and prayerfully step into the story to see what else God might have for us.
What might ‘stepping into a story’ look like? Let me explain.
It was Palm Sunday. Our pastor read the scripture passage recounting the happenings of that day and what the coming week held for Jesus. I had heard that story so many times. How could I find a way to see it with a fresh perspective?
I closed my eyes and asked the Holy Spirit to reveal Christ to me in a new way as I deliberately stepped into the scene described by my pastor.
Inside the Story
There was a crowd forming beside the road. A wild procession was slowly making its way to Jerusalem. Smiles radiated from every face because they thought this man was the next king!
People shouted “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the king of Israel!” They were laughing and jumping and bowing—making merry in the most exuberant way. They even had branches to put under the feet of the donkey to signify respect for the one who rode on it.
Jesus sat and solemnly made His way along the crowded road and allowed their praises to surround Him. He knew who He was. He knew where He was going. He knew what was to come next.
Hurrying, I quickly stepped to the side of the road. I didn’t want to miss this opportunity. It was a hot and dusty day. People, in their excitement, had pushed and shoved to find a clear view of Him and I, too, longed to get a good look at Him. I felt their eagerness. I smelled their sweat. I tasted the dust as the procession came closer. It wasn’t long until He was right in front of me, passing slowly, on His way to His death.
What happened next, in that brief moment as He passed by, is something I’ll never forget. As I earnestly searched His face He turned and looked directly at me. His brown eyes bore into my soul as I realized that He knew who I was. He knew my name and He knew my love for him. He knew the fullness of my heart—the love as well as the sin, the joy, and the brokenness. He knew. He knew it all. And even with all this knowledge, He loved me deeply. I knew it. I felt it. His gaze said it all.
It was a breathtaking moment and I blushed with joy while savoring His love for me in a fresh way while standing on the side of that dirt road.
Have you ever tried to step into a Bible story? I encourage you to take such an adventurous journey. How would the story of Jesus praying in the garden become more real if you were one of the disciples nodding off to sleep while Jesus asked you to stay awake and pray? What might you hear in a new and profound way as you sit with Jesus in the Upper Room and He tells you of His coming death? How might you feel as you watch as He is beaten and stripped, mocked and murdered? Sitting at the foot of the cross helplessly watching Him suffer, what would you see? What might you hear? How would you feel?
Placing yourself in the midst of a Bible story will offer you a unique perspective that will allow you to experience God’s Word in a deeply impacting way.
SOME OPTIONS FOR STEPPING INTO A BIBLE STORY:
Step in as One of the Characters
Become Peter and feel the weight of his despair after betraying Jesus.
Become the guard who beat Jesus; wonder at the anger.
Become Jesus’ mother and feel her grief; weep as she wept.
Become John, the one Jesus especially loved. Lean your head against His chest in the upper room and listen to what He has to say.
Step in as though you are a part of the action
Interact as yourself: you are a part of the crowd. You are one of the children Jesus blesses. You are the woman at the well or the woman caught in adultery.
Let Jesus wash your feet.
Warm yourself at the fire as you hear Peter deny Christ.
Step in as an observer
Watch as Jesus washed the disciples’ feet.
Watch as the guards came to take Jesus away from the garden on that dark night.
Stand at the foot of the cross and watch Jesus die.
Watch as Mary finds the tomb empty. See her as she runs to tell the disciples the GREAT news that Jesus had risen from the dead!
Once you know who you are in the story let it play out as scripture tells it. What might you see, smell, feel or taste? What might Christ want you to see anew in that particular story? Slow down. Open the scripture and see what is there as you step in to find Jesus’s actions and words spoken as though you were standing right there.
I didn’t have to travel to Israel. I didn’t add to what was already there in the scripture. I simply stepped into one of the stories in Jesus’ life and let it speak to me in a unique and interactive way. I invited the Holy Spirit to guide my thoughts and it was a gloriously profound experience.
I encourage you to try this unique way of approaching scripture.
Which story would you like to step into?
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I did this in the summer at Lake Junaluska and it was profound. I participated in dramatic readings of the scripture and we acted as characters in the passages read. The most profound for me was as one of the women going to the tomb to annount Jesus body and then seeing first an angel and then the risen Lord.
This sounds like another wonderful way to step into the stories of Christ! Thanks, Ginger.
Thanks for this Deane! I did this once as I was writing a piece about the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. It was quite a humbling experience!
Terry, I love it when we can experience the scripture in a deep and humbling way. Thanks much for sharing.
Your article led me to think about the fact that for centuries the stories were not read by the illiterate masses but simply heard from generation to generation. I imagine that the story tellers brought their listeners in just as you did for us. Thank you for this most excellent reminder, Deane!!
Beth, stories seem to wake us up and pull us in. They are a powerful tool for sharing the truths of scripture. Thanks much, my friend!
Thank you Deane, I began to see what you saw that day, Jesus coming to life during that sermon. I remembered playing roles in the Easter Pageant as a teenager and how that truly changed my walk with God from spectator to follower. I simply loved this reminder to welcome the Holy Spirit to teach us the word in creative ways.
The stories in God’s Word are not just ink on a page recording an event in ancient history. Each story is a part of His story, and ultimately… our story. Our life and our story derive their meaning and purpose from Him alone. Thank you Deane, for reminding and inspiring us to go deeper and allow the Word to speak to us on a more intimate level.
A beautiful teaching, and such a way to experience who God is in a new and fresh way. Thank you for this encouragement.