When I was a young boy in Mount Vernon, Kentucky, my Sunday school teacher, Joe Henderson, taught our class a song and a pledge . . . to the Bible.
The song went like this: “The B-I-B-L-E, yes, that”s the book for me, I stand alone on the word of God, the B-I-B-L-E.” The pledge to the Bible was spoken in unison and with open hands . . . palms up. With all our hearts we would all proclaim, “I pledge allegiance to the Bible, God”s Holy Word . . . a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path and will hide its words in my heart that I might not sin against God.”
Both the song and the pledge were meant to deepen the value and importance of the Bible in our lives. I like to think it worked.
I was called into ministry at the age of 21. Soon after, I met a wonderful friend named Bob Holden whose favorite verses of Scripture were Proverbs 3:5, 6. Solomon writes, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”
After hearing him share the passage at a camp the summer before I ventured to Bible college, I made it my life”s Bible passage as well. My wife, Cathy, made the verses into a needlepoint work of art at our home. I”ve preached from the passage many times. But mostly, the two verses have challenged and guided my life and ministry for the past 34 years. I have used this passage to guide many students and their call to ministry at Cincinnati Christian University.
These two verses from Proverbs have challenged me to trust the Lord . . .
not myself. They have reminded me God is faithful and true. God can be believed because he”s never been wrong. Every path he has shown me has been the right one. As I have acknowledged that in prayer and before others, God has guided every major decision of my life. This has included asking my future wife to marry me, acceptance of new calls into ministry, and decisions that have carried me far beyond what I have asked or imagined.
By age 21, I had not traveled farther from Mount Vernon, Kentucky, than Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In the last 34 years, however, as I have traveled the world sharing the gospel message that has changed my life, I have trusted the Lord to take me and use me for his purpose. The experience has been far greater than anything that ever entered my mind, and God has guided and supplied every adventure.
While these verses have inspired me daily to trust and believe, many others have lifted my soul in the tough times.
Isaiah 40:18-31 has often reminded me of the One who is in control. This has been especially important to a control freak like myself. (I can hear my friends laughing.) These verses remind me, especially when I am insecure, that we serve a big God who is in control.
I remember many pressure-filled moments as a senior minister when I contemplated a leadership decision that could affect the future of the church or considered the advice I would give that could change the course of a marriage or career. Such circumstances caused me to humbly go before God and ask for help. I was reminded by Isaiah that nothing could compare to Jehovah God, and that he would give me the strength to soar or run or even walk, but I would not faint.
Another passage that has kept me focused through years of ministry has been Revelation 21:1-5. John”s words reminded me, I am not home””yet! In fact, I have an incredible mansion prepared for me. Every time the path of ministry and faith were tough, I was reminded that this life is temporary, but eternity is waiting. Every time my heart broke because of a loss, I was reminded I am going to a place where I will never cry again in pain, and I will never have to say good-bye. I”ve always thought that will be the best part of Heaven. And now, as I age, I can”t wait to experience the “everything new” part.
In the past 34 years of ministry, I have stood on the Word of God. It has been a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. Indeed, its truth has been my joy, my fulfillment, and of course, my salvation. I highly recommend it to you!
Larry Travis is vice president of leadership development at Cincinnati (Ohio) Christian University.