What’s your life verse?
For many Christians, whether they happen upon one, one happens upon them, or they intentionally scour their Bibles to find the “just right” expression, a life verse is the faith-driven equivalent to selecting a song lyric, a poetry verse or a pithy quote that deeply and uniquely represents you.
Similarly then, a life verse is often used in an email signature, put in vinyl letters on a wall at home, or, more permanently, tattooed onto a shoulder, arm, leg or back – and in that respect, sharing the verse is part of the experience of having one.
As I reflect on my Christian faith, I’ve come to realize that I’ve relied upon not one, but a number of life verses, in keeping with life’s transitions – a series of life verses that speak to my walk with Christ. Mile markers along my journey deeper into my faith.
An early life verse that resonated with me was found in Joshua 24:15: “But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” This affirmation of faith, spoken by a patriarch to cover the entirety of his family and of his home, spoke to me when my wife and I were first establishing our home and starting our family. Not unlike the “Give us today our daily bread,” carved wood platters adorning our parents’ walls (Matthew 6:9-13), we christened our home with a cherry wood plaque, laser-etched with Joshua’s words – and the wisdom. It was important and meaningful for me to overtly establish this value and direction for our family; to put into words a solid faith-based guide for our forward motion together.
At a much later stage of my life, we were compelled to contemplate a rather difficult decision: whether or not to leave the Air Force after 12 years of active service. There were many positive and negative factors on each side of the scale, and the decision seemed to hinge mostly on our family’s economic security in unsure times. For the first time, we were tested to put our faith in our finances fully in the hands of the Lord our father, and not also in those of a seemingly maternal Air Force. We weighed and prayed our decision a lot – for months – and in doing so, soon enough had a God-honoring decision, and with it a profound sense of calm and faith and peace in a new life verse:
“ … Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? … do not worry, saying ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well,” (Matthew 6:25-34).
It was more than coincidence – indeed, it was Providence! – that I was able to find a good job here in St. Louis; a job that started the Monday after my military service ended, providing me with continuous employment across the transition that I’ve been blessed to have ever since.
There’s nothing in the Bible that says a person has to find a life verse. But unless one tries to encapsulate their entire faith experience into 5-7 words, there’s no harm in it either. On balance, choosing one is probably good. Indeed, for many contemporary Christians, having a life verse might be the sole scripture they ever commit to memory, providing an ever-present help needed in hard times – or that a friend or loved one needs to hear in witness.
While the passing of time through life is bittersweet, it’s humbling to look back at what I’ve gone through. With the benefit of hindsight, it’s cheering to look ahead, knowing there will be more, different milestones ahead. And knowing that my Lord – and His Word – will be there with me, to guide and comfort along the way.
All scripture from The Holy Bible, New International Version
The Faith Deconstructed category offers an occasionally thoughtful, sometimes glib, always faithful look at today’s Christianity, from the perspective of a reformed skeptic.