Visuals of the Bible
As young people look for guidance from God, they may sometimes hesitate to open their Bibles to directly seek His wisdom. They might feel it’s too difficult to understand what they’re going to read, or it won’t relate to their problems. Some of them hear preaching from many voices, and may not want another judgmental one telling them what they are doing wrong. Youth want to make time for God, but may feel overwhelmed by trying to also make time to open their textbooks to study for a final exam.
It can be easy for young people, and even many adults, to have these apprehensions. But I have found direct, personal guidance through the visuals of the Bible.
I was in a relationship with someone who said he believed in God, but also felt believing was enough. He did not search for a closer connection as I did, and I felt he was drawing me away from my own connection with the Christ.
In one of Paul’s letters to the Corinthians, he asks, “Do you not know that in a race, all runners run, but only one gets the prize?” Then he says, “Run in such a way as to get the prize” (1 Cor. 9:24). In my mind, I saw myself running a race, and the prize was a better connection with God. If I truly wanted that prize, should I let anything or anyone hold me back?
Although I had to end the relationship, I would never say what I did is what everyone should do if they are in a similar situation. After all, everyone runs his or her own race. But it was what worked for me, and I found guidance in Paul’s letter.
Be like children
Children thrive on visuals they imagine from the first Bible stories they learn. Take for example Noah gathering two of every animal in his Ark, Moses parting the Red Sea, or Daniel praying in the lions’ den.
Children also learn from visuals they create in the classroom. I saw this firsthand at a Vacation Bible School where I worked during a spring break. In one activity, the children put red paint on a cross. This art project showed them how Jesus had taken away their sin. They were really touched by knowing Jesus had done that for each of them. It made me see how, through visuals, they can become sensitive to His word and to His love.
Unfortunately, when some children become adults, they also grow doubtful about God. They become hesitant to accept the Bible as His word. As a Christian, it can be difficult to express one’s connection to God with someone who has evolved such a cynical view of Him.
That is why Jesus said to His followers in Matthew 18:3, “… unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Runners and streams
Just as the children in Vacation Bible School found joy in such a visual aspect of God’s love, I am drawn to the verses in the Bible that give me a picture with which to work.
My favorite verse is “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the Holy place where the Most High dwells” (Psalms 46:4).
What a simple but clear image! I want to be one of those streams, just as I imagined being a runner, racing towards the prize. Those verses stay with me the longest.
We must read and educate ourselves in the theological aspects of the Bible as they strengthen our faith, but all of us should also seek and embrace the imagery of the Bible. In it, we can see how to guide our lives.
— Grace Paré is a soldier at the Bay Ridge (Brooklyn) Corps