Christian Living

Spiritual Life

The Shortest Verse in the Bible

Which Scripture verse best described my idea of the Christian ideal? How about the verse commonly pointed to as the shortest verse in the Bible:

“Jesus wept” (John 11:35).

Well, if I may interject a bit of biblical trivia here, it was pointed out to me by my friend Levi Lusk that John 11:35 is technically not the shortest verse in the Bible, despite the fact that everyone says it is. In fact, in the original Greek language in which the New Testament was written, that verse contains 16 characters. 

There is actually a verse that is shorter, containing a mere 14 characters in the original language. It’s Paul’s admonition to

“Rejoice always” (1 Thessalonians 5:16).

Perhaps, I began to believe, this is a much better ideal for my life. As Scripture says,

“Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). 

That morning kind of faith is so much better than a mourning kind of faith!

So, there I was, struggling to prove myself to God and others, and feeling like a charlatan.

Because I was at a loss for what I should be doing with my life, I went in search of a sunbeam. I studied books I had previously deemed to be dangerous or taboo, I poured out my heart to God in complete honesty, and I began to meet people who were more like the person I was actually created to be. I discovered there was an alternative way of “being a Christian” than making an agony out of my faith, and that the point of life was not to become more pious, but to become a friend of the God of hope, which is the apostle Paul’s nickname for the great Creator God (Romans 15:13).

In the process I found a new focus and polestar toward which all my theology could gravitate: sacred optimism. Everybody was always talking about the cross, but I discovered that the early Christians in the book of Acts were every bit as focused on the resurrection. Perhaps that is why images of the cross are such a rare occurrence in early Christian art, and images and symbols of resurrection are so abundant! It wasn’t until the early Middle Ages that the cross became a focus of art, which may say something important about what the early believers were focusing upon.

I saw that I needed to write myself into a narrative that ended with the empty tomb rather than pausing the movie in the middle of the passion of Christ.

It didn’t happen overnight, but as I pursued this path my depression began to ease. It started to relax its iron grip on me as I began to see my life and my faith in a new way. The new narrative for my life was not a pious religious task, but a breathtaking adventure with the God of hope.

I started down a path that brought healing to my broken heart and gave my life a brand-new lens.

I started taking long walks with God where I would tell Him about my dreams. Interestingly, scientific research has discovered that talking with God about your hopes, fears, and dreams has the same effect on your brain as years of therapy. So, I got vulnerable and opened up to Him. I decided to forgo all my attempts to live up to other people’s expectations for my life and just be content with being who He had made me to be.

Paradoxically, I ended up working even harder, but now with a new attitude. I had a new outlook, a new focus, and a new sense of hope. This made all the hard work I was doing fun.

Having read that it takes an investment of 10,000 hours to excel at anything, I decided to invest 11,073 hours over the course of five years to become proficient at crafting a new way to write and teach. (Yes, I actually used stopwatches and timers, which is evidence of just how OCD I really am.) On the side I even wrote a fantasy trilogy just for the fun of it.

I started making room for new friends in my life, people with whom I undertook all kinds of crazy adventures.

I focused on creating a dreamality by doing the work that needed to be done. No more time riding the pine. I was in the game. 

And for the first time, I really learned how to let God love on me.

If you are struggling with a life that isn’t working for you, perhaps this isn’t the time for giving up but for soldiering on. It’s time to dig in your heels, put some skin in the game, and fight the beast of depression. Then you can let God give you your victory.

Excerpted with permission from Flirting with Darkness by Ben Courson, published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon, 97408. Copyright 2020, Ben Courson. 

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