Have you ever heard the term “life scriptures” or “life verse” and wondered exactly what it meant? You might have thought the obvious: they are scriptures for life, and that is indeed true! And yet, they can mean something much deeper.
Throughout my journey on this thing called life, certain scriptures have beckoned me to journey more deeply. In the midst of the storm, scriptures would speak clearly above the crashing thunder and bring peace and assurance. In the lulling comfort of seasons of blessings, other scriptures would help me recognize those blessings and get me on my feet to praise the source. In the darkest valleys, his Word would reassure me of His presence even though I could not see. Over and over, in every season of life, God used HIS WORDS, found in scripture, to speak into my life and the situations I faced. He’s so good!
But there’s more to a “life scripture”. . .
See, there are other scriptures that speak to a place so deep within your soul that you know that you know that you know those verses were meant to carry you and guide you through all seasons. These are verses that define you—or rather, God uses to define you and your relationship with him.
Consider this quote of Alistair Gregg of Truth for Life Radio Ministries:
Ultimately all of scripture points to Christ—the Living Word who became flesh and made his dwelling among us. Through Christ, we meet God—Emmanuel, God With Us. As we read, we not only encounter a man who walked this earth, but a Divine God who walked this earth. And those scriptures are clear—we are to be imitators of that man, revealing God to others through our words and deeds. And we are each designed to do that in our own unique way, according to God’s plan and destiny for our lives.
One way God speaks to us is through his scripture—we all know that. So wouldn’t it make sense that God uses those same scriptures to speak to us of our unique destiny? “Life scriptures” are those verses or passages that rise to the surface time and time again and speak to who we are at the deepest level, who God designed us to be, and the destiny he has for each of us to fulfill.
One of my life scriptures is from Isaiah 50:
The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue,
to know the word that sustains the weary.
He wakens me morning by morning,
wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.
Because the Sovereign Lord helps me,
I will not be disgraced.
Therefore have I set my face like flint,
and I know I will not be put to shame.
Over and over God has used these words in powerful encounters with Jesus, the Living Word, as I dug into God’s Word for direction and guidance. It reminds me what I am to be about:
The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue [the tongue of a disciple who sits at the feet of Christ to learn],
to know [understand, perceive, discern] the word [whether spoken, written, sung or danced] that sustains the weary [his children, who are desperately in search of true love, peace and comfort].
He wakens me morning by morning [this is not a one time infilling, I need to come to him time and time again],
wakens my ear to listen [uncovers or unveils in order to reveal] like one being instructed.
Because the Sovereign Lord helps me [he will give me what I need to know; I am not on my own],
I will not be disgraced [I need not worry if people don’t understand or criticize what I do or say].
Therefore have I set [established, planted] my face [facing forward, never backward] like flint [firm in my convictions],
and I know [in the deepest places of my being] I will not be put to shame [disillusionment, dismay when things don’t turn out as expected].
Another aspect of this passage that informs my life is that it was written concerning the return of Israel from exile—a time of salvation, restoration and redemption. Moreover, it is considered to be one of four Servant Songs in Isaiah that point to Christ the Messiah and his ministry of salvation, restoration and redemption. So God wants me to be about those things as well.
Now how does this affect my daily walk and God’s calling on my life? When I lead worship, when I minister through drama or dance, when I teach or speak, when I write, in all things, I need to be about two main things: 1) to be a disciple, to study, to dig deeply into God’s Word, to listen to the voice of Jesus as I learn in order to hear what he’s trying to teach me; and 2) my words need to come out of that place of learning not just as information but as words that sustain the weary and bring comfort to His people. I find that when I am “studying” or “preparing” for the activities listed above, I often have a deep encounter with Christ for myself first. Then, out of that place, I am better able to minister to others, to discern the word that will sustain the weary.
Pause for a moment and think about the words from scripture that have risen to the surface in many seasons of your life. Thumb through your Bible and look for places highlighted, underlined, and circled so many times you can barely make out the print anymore. Search through your journals and see which scriptures come up again and again. Stop and simply listen for His voice to lead you. Then begin to ponder those scriptures and ask the Lord if this is what you are to be about. If you sense God saying yes (or at least not saying no) then commit that scripture to prayer and study. Read it in every version. Go to a seminary or church library and read every commentary on the passage you can find. Really dig in. Press into the passage and ask God to reveal his plans and purposes in your life through it.
And lastly, don’t forget to remember!! There are times in my life when I fail to remember what God had spoken to me through my life scriptures, and I walk away from his true calling, his design and destiny, in my life. Eventually I return to these passages, and God gently reminds me to fulfill the unique plans he has for my life.
I encourage you to find your own “life scriptures”—for living life with the Living Word brings a deeper fulfillment than anything here on earth!! Pick up your Bible—get reading!!
Jody Thomae is the author of God’s Creative Gift—Unleashing the Artist in You, a devotional book with Bible studies to nurture the creative spirit within and to serve as a resource for creative Christians, artists and musicians. She has been involved in worship arts ministry since 1997, serving as worship arts ministry pastor, worship leader, and creative arts director. She coordinates artistic involvement in church services and regional worship events through dance, drama, poetry and fine arts and performs, teaches, choreographs, preaches, and leads workshops in the area of creativity, spirituality and embodied prayer. She enjoys leading worship at local seminars, retreats and women’s events, and has recently released a devotional album entitled Song of the Beloved.
Her passion is for the revelation of God to be made more real through the prophetic use of the arts in church and formational ministry. It is her desire to portray the message of Christ’s desperate and unfailing love for His people to help sustain the hearts of the broken and weary. She is particularly interested in the way in which God uses the arts to bring formational development and healing to His people. Life scriptures include Psalm 27; Isaiah 50:4-7; and Zephaniah 3:14-17.
Activities: Leads worship, teaches, and performs through dance and drama at regional churches, worship events and Healing Care Ministries events. Guest lecturer at Healing Care Ministry International Certificate Program in Spiritual Formation & Spiritual Direction.
Teaches on: Creativity and the Artist; Incarnational Artistry; Theology of Beauty; Dance as Prayer (Embodied Prayer); Portraying Scripture through Movement; Flags, Banners & Color Meanings; Symbolism in Worship Movement and the Creative Arts; Moving/Beauty from the Core; the Prophetic and Priestly Roles of the Artist in the Church.
Education: BA, R/TV & Public Communication, Ashland University (1988); MA, Organizational Communication, Ohio University (1990); and MA, Religion, Ashland Theological Seminary (2009).