Have you ever wrapped your arms around your Bible? Found yourself clutching it to your chest? You were so touched, so taken by what you read, that you simply found yourself embracing God’s book.
I understand! I so-o-o understand.
Years ago, I remember walking through my family room when all of a sudden I stopped—dead in my tracks as some would say. Having been a nurse, I was fascinated by what I saw on the television.
There on the screen was a picture of two pieces of heart tissue on a slide under a microscope. Taken from the bodies of two different people, the heart tissues were beating—each in its own rhythm—until a man in a white lab coat took his silver forceps and picked up one tissue and placed it on top of the other. The minute they touched they began to beat in sync as one. My mind raced to Jesus’ prayer—His magnificent petition in John 17 that we might be one with Him as He is one with the Father.
I love the Word of God. It has been and is my sustenance, my life. The bread by which I live. It brought me out of religion into a relationship with Almighty God. Let me tell you a little bit of my story, so you can understand more about my passion.
I was 29 years old, divorced and raising two little boys on my own when I cried out to the Lord.
It was the morning of July 12, 1963. I called the doctor I worked with at Johns Hopkins Hospital and told him I was just too sick to work. It wasn’t a physical sickness. I was sick at heart. My heart was out of sync with God’s heart.
I kissed my firstborn son goodbye and scooted him out the door to catch his ride to day camp. Then I turned to his younger brother. Crouching down on my knees until we were eyeball-to-eyeball serious, I said, “Mark, honey, Mother has to be alone. Will you please, please allow me to be alone for a little while?”
With that, I ran up the stairs to my bedroom, fell on my knees beside my bed and cried out to God.
“Oh God, I don’t care if You paralyze me from the neck down. I don’t care what You do to my two boys. I don’t care if I never have another man in my life as long as I live.”
At the time, these were the three worst things I thought could happen to me.
Then came my plea, “If You will just give me peace.”
And there on my knees, God gave me the Prince of Peace, the Lord Jesus Christ.As a child, I had attended church every Sunday and considered myself a Christian, but I had no relationship with God and found the Bible boring and difficult to understand.
Not too long after my plea, God brought Dave Pantzer—an old friend—back into my life, and a Bible came with him. It was a modern translation of the New Testament from England. I’ll never forget reading Romans 9:25-26. I remember it going a little something like this:
“And He called her beloved when there was nothing lovely about her.”
Tears gushed from my eyes.
That’s me, I thought. That’s me.
Along with the gift of the Bible, Dave introduced me to all sorts of missionary biographies—Hudson Taylor, Andrew Murray, Isobel Kuhn—and I saw the vital role the Word of God played in their lives. They were examples among believers (1 Timothy 4:12), and I wanted to be the same.
Then there was the night God told me I was going to marry Jack Arthur (whom I had yet to meet). I had married at 20, only to have the relationship implode six years later. After the divorce, I sought refuge and comfort in other men, even having an affair for two years with a married man. But God was slowly calling me to Himself.
Jack was a seasoned missionary with the Pocket Testament League, a ministry founded by a group of school girls in the late 1800s that mobilizes people to carry and share the Word of God. After we married, I sold everything I owned, we bought a trailer and moved to Guadalajara, Mexico, as missionaries.
For the next three years I studied, studied, studied and taught teens the Word of God, and I’m still teaching teenagers.
And what better place to start than the Book of Romans? The more I learned, the more I loved God. I wanted to know all 66 books of the Bible.
The biographies of Christians I read about and the missionaries I met opened the world to me.
Jack and I started Precept Ministries in 1970, and now our inductive studies are being taught in 190 countries and in 90 languages. And over the last 50 years, our mission remains the same—to help people know God deeply so they can live differently. We do that by teaching them to observe the text, identifying the who, what, when, where and how, then to interpret what it means and to apply it to their lives. You see, we completely agree with Moses—“Indeed it is your life” (Deuteronomy 32:47). The Bible is not something that you simply add to your life to help you live a little better—it is your life!
Many times, I’ve wrapped my arms around my Bible and held it tightly to my chest—thanking my Heavenly Father for what I have learned and experienced, especially His sovereignty. God rules over all (Daniel 4:34-35; Isaiah 45:5-7).
I am now 88 and learning to live with Parkinson’s disease. So how am I to handle this difficult diagnosis? “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4). The reason I can honestly say that I am thankful for my disease is because I know God is sovereign and is in control of my health, and I continue reaching forward to whatever God has while pressing on.
According to Ecclesiastes 8:8, there is no discharge, no retirement in the time of war, and it is certainly the time of war.
Onward, Christian soldiers—love and hold fast to “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). Wrap your arms around it. ©2022 Kay Arthur
Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible 1995.
Kay Arthur is the co-founder of Precept, a ministry that’s been equipping Bible study leaders with materials to study the Word of God in-depth since 1970.
Above: Kay Arthur has taught God’s Word frequently at The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove in Asheville, North Carolina, where guests come for Bible study and spiritual renewal.
Photo: Tommy Berry/©2016 BGEA