“And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.’” Mark 16:15
Last Spring, I was making some visits throughout town. There was a church member I hadn’t seen in a while, so I decided to check on her. With Bible in hand, I got out of my truck, walked up to the door and rang the doorbell. Seconds later, she opened it with a big smile. At first, she was confused. For the past few months, her memory had been declining. She didn’t recognize me. This wasn’t the first time, but I always tried to give her the benefit of the doubt. I wasn’t in my normal “element” – I wasn’t standing behind the pulpit in a suit preaching to her and others in our Sanctuary on a Sunday morning. When you only see the same person in the same place every week, sometimes it takes you a minute if you see them somewhere new!
Her face held a vexed demeanor until she saw my Bible. She began to smile again, asking for my name and why I was there. I told her I was a preacher and had come to read Scripture with her. Joy like I had never seen before danced all over her face when the announcement was made that I had come to read Scripture. Usually, people’s natural reactions are: “Is someone about to die?” or “I’m too busy for that today” or “Am I in trouble?” She urged me to come inside while she ran and grabbed her husband. Her husband recognized me instantly and from the look in his eyes, we both knew that we needed to play along with the scenario crafted in his wife’s head.
We gathered into the living room and settled on the couch. She began asking all sorts of questions: “Where did you come from? How far have you traveled today? What Scripture will you be reading to me? How long have you been on the road?” She began telling me all about “her minister” at her church and how she loved going there on Sundays. Her husband began to get upset, saying over and over, “This is our minister dear, he’s right here.” I comforted him and said it was fine. I opened to the Gospel of John and read her the story of Nicodemus approaching Jesus by night in John 3. Then I read her Psalm 139. The entire time I read, she grinned from ear to ear! She was so happy the “traveling preacher” had come to visit and read Scripture with her.
When I left that day, a plethora of emotions rattled around in my brain. First, I was sad for this church member. I was sad that her mind was quickly fading and sad for her husband, too. She was his second wife and I could feel his sadness and frustration, but he was also thankful for the companionship the Lord had provided. Second, I was happily encouraged by her contagious joy. I was genuinely shocked she was so excited about hearing God’s Word read to her! She was so comforted by it, so drawn to it and blessed by it. It was an honor reading it to her. I started to think, “When was the last time I got this excited about reading God’s Word? Is it something I look forward to doing, or is just another box to check off for the day?” She didn’t know it, but her reverence and elation towards God’s Word made an impact on me that day. She challenged me to find more joy in the freedom I have to freely open God’s Word anytime I want. As Americans, we’re spoiled. We’re spoiled that we have multiple copies of God’s Word in our homes, can find it online, or even listen to audio books of His Word – all without worrying about being persecuted, put in prison, or even killed for reading it!
She challenged me that day to act more like a traveling preacher, to go out and share God’s Word without anyone I could. I pray that more people will be eager to listen. Take some time this month to PAUSE and READ God’s Word. Let it soak you deep into your bones and change you for the better. Find the JOY it contains! In response, be a traveling preacher this month and share God’s Word! “Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples,” (Psalm 96:3)!
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