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But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness,

godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. ~ 1 Timothy 6:11

Saturday, November 17, 2012

My Favorite Bible Verse

The discovery of my favorite Bible verse was a transformative experience.  It was one of the first times in my life when I could actually feel God's presence.

It was a cold winter morning in the second semester of my freshman year in college.  Sunlight was pouring through the window of my dorm room.  I rolled out of bed, grudgingly, to read my Bible and go running before class.  I started reading John 15 and the following line woke me up:
I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. ~ John 15:5
That was it!  For years I had been searching for a simple way to summarize what I thought my relationship with Christ should be.  And this visual nailed it!  It was like finding a puzzle piece you have been looking for.

That's not my favorite Bible verse...

But it got my attention.  I was now fully awake and longer grudging.  I kept on reading. Every single verse built on the one before it...I get my power from Jesus...bearing fruit glorifies God...God loves Jesus...Jesus loves one another as Jesus loved us...

And then it all culminated in this:
No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. ~ John 15:13
I stopped reading, stunned.  This verse meant infinitely more when taken in the full context of John 15. (Go read it, it all goes together.)

The full meaning of this verse really sank in. The greatest love one can have is to sacrifice one's life for another. And everyone knows Jesus gave his life for us. Jesus died for me...because of me.

I put down the Bible, numbly got dressed, and went running. I ran, not seeing anything, my mind focused on the fact that Jesus, this man I didn't know, had died for me because he loved me. What used to be just words became real to me for the first time. And it didn't compute.

The Bible verse drifted through my head again and I thought of my brother, Garrett. I thought of how much I loved him. Would I give my life so that he might live?  The answer, I was surprised to find, was yes...that was terrifying.

The discovery slowly began to dissolve into understanding. Jesus loved me like I love my brother. That made Jesus' love tangible. I knew what Jesus felt for me. I experienced it in the love I had for my brother. 

That was incredible. The most powerful love I knew and that was how Jesus felt about me...even when I was ignoring Him. And this love led to His death. He sacrificed His life because of the love I felt now.

It made my heart long for Jesus. For the first time in my life, I really loved Jesus back.

I ran until my eyes cleared. Exhausted, I started walking back to my dorm. I started seeing the people around me again. And I was shocked to see the purple backpack in front of me had "John 15:13" stitched into the back of it!

I couldn't believe it. I wanted to tell her, but I was scared.  (Yes, I've always loved talking, but I had never talked about my faith before.) I decided that this couldn't be a coincidence and it warranted overcoming the trepidation I felt.

I tapped her on the shoulder. I bumbled my way through a brief chat about our shared favorite Bible verse and how amazing God was for lining her up in front of me on the day I discovered the verse. It was the first time I shared my faith, something we are all called to do.  And it was rewarding!

And that is the story of how I discovered my favorite Bible verse: John 15:13!

Post Script 

You might be reacting with disbelief. I know that this might be the most famous and widely quoted verse in the Bible, but I was really uninformed about my faith at that time. I really didn't know it.  And, being that uneducated allowed this verse to hit me with all the force of someone discovering it for the first time.

It is so nice being able to have a clear answer (and a great story) when people bring up favorite Bible verses. Do you know your favorite Bible verse? If not, you should go find it.

Keep Pursuing

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