Dumbo gets me ever time. It’s the one Disney movie I remember bawling at as a kid. I haven’t gotten over it either, not after all these years.
Once one of my girls found a storybook at the library about Dumbo. She checked it out and then climbed up in my lap at home so I could read it to her. At first it was easy. Baby elephant with big ears . . . Blah blah blah . . .
Everyone makes fun of him, mocking and taunting (sniffle, sniffle).
The mommy tries to defend him and they lock her up. Dumbo gets dragged away from her, their trunks locked in embrace until the last possible second . . .
Someone please pass the tissues! I just can’t do this story without tears.
In fact, it’s hard for me to do this story at all. I sent the book back to the library ahead of time and I can’t bring myself to watch the movie. My response is always so intense.
Sure it’s a cartoon elephant who ultimately flies and makes friends, but it’s still a child hurt by the cruelty of others and taken away from his mama!
In Scripture, we see people reacting even more intensely than how I snatch at tissues at the slightest Dumbo provocation. Not because of a fictional scenario, though.
They are hearing God’s Word.
Eighteen-year-old Josiah, for example, was king of Judah when a member of his court went to the temple to perform some administrative tasks. There he met the High Priest, who announced that he “happened” to have found the Book of the Law.
So, the royal secretary read it and then read it aloud to King Josiah:
“When the king heard what was written in the book, God’s Revelation, he ripped his robes in dismay. And then he called for Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Acbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the royal secretary, and Asaiah the king’s personal aide. He ordered them all: “Go and pray to God for me and for this people—for all Judah! Find out what we must do in response to what is written in this book that has just been found!” (2 Kings 22:11-13 MSG).
Josiah knew that God’s Word requires a response.
In the same way, when the exiles returned to Jerusalem and stood inside the rebuilt walls of the city, Ezra the High Priest read the Book of the Law of Moses to everyone. Men and women and kids old enough to understood stood from morning until lunch time listening to him read Scripture aloud.
Just God’s Word. And nothing else. For hours and hours.
They didn’t yawn, tune it out, roll their eyes, poke their neighbor, or skip attending so they could do chores or kick back with the latest release of ancient Middle-eastern epic poetry.
Instead, “Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people answered, ‘Amen, Amen,’ lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground” (Nehemiah 8:5-6).
At first, the people were filled with remorse and driven to repent. Yet, Nehemiah (their governor) and the Levites (their priests) encouraged them to celebrate instead: “And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them” (Nehemiah 8:12 ESV).
Their response to Scripture was emotional and intense.
There was true repentance and grief over how their sins had broken the heart of God.
There was a hunger for more and the willingness to stay as long as it took to hear what God had to say.
There was passionate worship with shouts of “Amen” and bowing low to the ground in awe of Mighty God.
There was joy and celebration because “they had understood the words that were declared to them.”
How do you respond to God’s Word?
If we pick it up and read it with unemotional disinterest or with a bored and distracted mind we are missing it!
We are missing out on all the power of Scripture to revolutionize our hearts and minds, driving us to repentance, inciting us to intensely passionate worship and filling us with the kind of joy that makes us want to tell everyone what we’ve learned.
Scripture can’t be a mandatory item on our to-do list or an occasional emotional pick-me-up we drag off the shelves and dust off anytime life gets hard.
It’s got to be life and breath and food and drink to us because it holds God’s very own words, so active and relevant in our lives! As you read, pray and ask God, “How do you want me to respond to this?”
Maybe you’ll need some of my tissues or maybe you’ll dance, but either way you’ll be giving God’s Word the response it deserves.
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2012 Heather King