By Jenny Sollberger
I made up a batch of trail mix the other day. Some peanuts, almonds and a few walnuts went in. A handful of dried cranberries and mangoes got tossed in, too. And, of course, some mini chocolate chips—because trail mix just isn’t trail mix without chocolate. When I set a dish of it on the table for my boys I got shouts of thanks.
“Ooh! It’s trail mix. Thanks Mom!”
“Oh, I want some.”
“I get it after you!”
And then…the picking began. One of them started picking out the cranberries. Another went after just the peanuts and chocolate chips. But the third child grabbed an entire handful, and I smiled. “Good,” I thought to myself, “He’s going to enjoy the complete goodness of the mix.” I watched as he opened his hand ready to pop the mix into his mouth. But he didn’t. He started to pick out the walnuts and toss them back into the dish! I shook my head in disbelief as I walked out of the room.
There are people who view God’s Word as a trail mix. They sort through it, looking for the pieces that gratify them, bring them contentment, or speak to their current problem. They avoid the pieces that make them anxious, create doubt, or speak to their sin. Sometimes pieces of the Bible don’t mesh with their human reason. They cannot figure out how our entire world could be created in six days, so they don’t choose that piece. Or they can make no sense of how a virgin could give birth to a child, so they leave that piece alone, too.
Other people go gung-ho after God’s Word, scouring it and taking it all in only to find that some of it doesn’t look so appetizing. “You shall not murder,” God’s Word tells us in Exodus. Yet their minds begin to reason that abortion is okay, or on the other hand, that a soldier killing in the line of duty is breaking this commandment. They read about the Lord’s acts of wrath in the Old Testament and wonder how a loving God could actually be that vengeful.
The apostle Paul wrote many letters that make up much of the New Testament. They are full of good words for people today. But some people may begin to reason that since Paul was human, and full of flaws, his writing must also be flawed. Therefore, they feel they must be careful as they read it because it may not be beneficial as a whole.
I can’t help but go to God’s Word because of this questioning. (After all, who has the most authority on the Word of God, but God Himself?) Paul writes “All Scripture is breathed out by God.” (2 Timothy 3:16) I picture this so vividly as God breathing the Holy Spirit into the men who sat, quills poised above their parchments, ready to write for Him. They write using their own words and style through which God the Holy Spirit specifically has chosen to work for the Christians to come. Verse 16 goes on to tell us that Scripture is “profitable for teaching (the imparting of knowledge), for reproof (the call to repentance), for correction (through the Word), and for training in righteousness (made righteous by God’s grace, we can live righteously).” All of Scripture is useful and beneficial to us. As I remember being taught when I was in elementary school, every word of the Bible is there for a reason. None of it is filler.
It is all important.
Christ tells us in John, while talking to the Jews who wanted to stone Him, that “the Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). It doesn’t get any plainer than that. God’s Word is not to be picked apart or messed with in any way. And this is for our own good. In this world that is changing so quickly, isn’t it reassuring to know that God’s Word is true and unchanging? Isn’t it good to know that we can trust what He says?
So grab God’s Word with both hands and indulge in all of its teachings. It is all beneficial; it is all needed. But know this: Questions will arise and when that happens we have a gift in our pastors. Ask your pastor those questions when you start to feel like reason is wrestling with your faith. On Sunday mornings, listen to your pastor preach God’s Word of Law and Gospel that may, at times, confuse you. Be ready for parts of that Word to cause pain as your sins are uncovered. But most importantly, be ready for the undeniable sweetness of the Gospel. As in that trail mix, the bitterness of the walnuts becomes much sweeter when enjoyed with the chocolate. And since the whole Bible, in all its parts, is about Jesus, who saves us from our sins by His death and resurrection, hearing the Scriptures is like downing a whole handful of trail mix and receiving all the taste and nutrition at once. “For you search the Scriptures that you may find eternal life, and these are they which testify of me” (John 5:39).
Jenny Sollberger lives near Omaha, Nebraska. She enjoys cooking and baking, writing, reading, and paper crafts. She and her husband, Rev. Jon Sollberger, have three boys and they all enjoy their trail mix. Her oldest informed her that he does not pick through his. “Creative license,” was her response. You can reach her at email@example.com.