When I was thirteen years old, my youth pastor preached a Wednesday night series about spending time with God. He preached that if we students called ourselves, we absolutely had to spend time studying God's Word and talking to Him. If not, then we were either not serious about our faiths, or we had none. In each unfortunate case, we weren't true followers of Jesus. He then preceded to give us an example of how to spend time with God. He taught that we simply needed to spend seven minutes a day with God, with that time divided between prayer and His Word. I was then provided with a very cool journal in which I could record prayers or take notes from my Bible studies. For the next few weeks, I read my Bible rather regularly, though not daily. After some time, apathy took over and I no longer cared to read my Bible.
A year and a half later, I was a fourteen year old at Life Action family camp in Michigan. I would be at the secluded Christian camp for three weeks. It was a gladly accepted break from my life. My best friend had recently taken herself out of my life for reasons I still do not know, and my priorities in life were sadly misplaced. The speaker for the first two weeks at camp was a splendid speaker who preached about the power of prayer and the importance of reading the Bible. He challenged those who weren't reading their Bibles to read three chapters of John for seven days. I committed myself to reading my Bible. It took my nearly two weeks to finish John, but I did. I was enamored with how wonderful the Bible truly was. It was as if for the first time, God had opened my eyes to how sweetly majestic His Word was. Even though I had "walked down the aisle" and "accepted Jesus into my heart" as an eight year old, I never knew or loved Jesus, yet alone give my life and undying love to Him.
At the exact time that I was challenged to read my Bible, I began to read a book written by dc Talk. Titled Jesus Freaks 2: Revolutionaries, it was a book about Christian groups and individuals that changed the course history. The vast majority of these world changers ended their lives in martyrdom. It was in this book, and it's predecessor Jesus Freaks: Martyrs, that I saw an entirely new face in Jesus and Christianity. It was no longer about attending church, getting the answers right in Sunday School, or singing the songs in church. It became simply loving Jesus with all of my heart.
And what since then have I learned about Jesus by reading my Bible? I've learned how to deal with the impossible feat of carrying my cross every day. I've learned how to love someone even though I get nothing in return. I've learned how to align my priorities and my dreams with God's plan for my life. But the most important thing I have learned is that love is the glue that binds us all together. Love is the reason families stick together through hard times. Love is why churches reach out to devastated communities. Love is the reason why friends come together. Love is the reason that God died. God died for me. And for you.