My Life Verse(s)

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At the 7:00pm service at St Tees we have just begun a new sermon series entitled ‘My Life Verse’.

First of all, what is a ‘Life Verse’? Simply put, it’s a verse of scripture which ‘speaks' deeply to you - one which ‘sums up’ your spiritual life, or which reminds you of something of which you need reminding frequently!

Some people go to quite some lengths to choose one. I think there are about 31,000 verses in the bible, so finding one which ‘suits’ could be like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack. I imagine that it could be quite a task.

I’m fortunate, in that mine was chosen for me, many, many, years ago. In those days, it wasn’t referred to as a ‘Life Verse’, but as a ‘Baptismal Promise’. Maybe some churches still call them that. Getting back in touch with Izzy reminded me of the circumstances of acquiring mine - though the verses themselves have never been far from me.

I became a Christian in 1980, and was baptised in 1981 by Izzy’s late father, our pastor. He was a huge man - once he’d got hold of you, there was no escape! After I’d dried off and put on dry clothes, I emerged back into the main body of the church, and was met by a lot of smiling, congratulatory, faces. One in particular stood out - I can’t remember his name now, but he was a dapper little man - very neat in a dark suit. He was clutching a bible and said that he had a 'baptismal promise' for me, which I was to memorise. He quoted it from the King James bible (because that was what our Pentecostal church used), and that’s how I memorised it:

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding.

In all thy ways acknowledge Him and he shall direct thy paths.
Proverbs 3: 5,6

In a more modern translation (in case you struggle to make sense of the archaic language) - the NIV:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

I was a student at the time, studying for a degree in physics, but with no idea of ‘what next'. Little did I, or anyone else at that stage, suspect that an academic career was ahead of me or how much of a ‘thinker’ I would become - and still am. As you’ll have seen if you follow this blog for any length of time I can’t help thinking deeply about things. This verse always comes back to me when I’m ‘overthinking’ things, and reminds me of my place in God’s world. So I don’t need to search for a Life Verse - I already have one, and have had it for virtually all my Christian life. It means a lot to me, and I’m very grateful for it!

More recently, another verse has become very significant:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17

The story of how that verse became of particular significance is contained in this blog post from April 2016: Revolution & Resolution. And it has stayed with me since. In some way, I seem to feel as though I am a renewed new creation. Yes, I became a Christian (a new creation) thirty-seven years ago but, in some sense, a renewed new life began at Easter 2016 - a lot of ‘stuff’ from long ago was healed, and has since faded into the past. This verse reminds me of that little miracle.

Copyright Phil Hendry, 2016