The Milestones of Your Life

What marks your soul’s progress?

The following reflection can be the starting point for a small group encounter based on Galatians 5:22-23. As a leader, make your own personal application and then help your group to come to grips with the challenges allowing the Word of God to “expand” your soul.

How do you mark the milestones of your life?

If you go to the home of a sports friend, you might see a number of trophies and awards that mark the milestones of success in his or her life as an athlete. In the same way, a grandmother may have a lovely bracelet that bears witness to her children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren, the milestones of her maternal life. Another person may have a wall of diplomas that speak of an academic life. These are the milestones of a professor or scholar within a field of study.

If I had to describe the milestones in my life it could easily be done with the Bibles that I have on my shelf. I received my first Bible at the age of seven. The cover has an image of Jesus with the children. A few years later, I was given the same Bible, but this time with a zipper. For me it was the best because I could keep papers inside without losing them. Graduation from high school, the first Christmas after I got married, and my ordination to the ministry brought me other special Bibles. I remember my first Bible in Spanish, the Bible given to me when I was installed as an elder in a congregation in New York, and my first Catholic Bible. These Bibles are milestones of my walk with Jesus after many years.

The “Word”

It is one thing to have a Bible, or as in my case, many Bibles; but it is another thing to take time to read and digest the words of life revealed by “the Word” that “became a human being” and “lived among us” (John 1:14). To know Jesus, to be in a relationship with him is to know life, now and forever. It creates in us a magna anima, a great soul, in which the Spirit of Jesus produces fruit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).

With all the Bibles on my shelf, you would think that by now I would be a great saint. I'm not. The Bible is not a magic wand that makes you a saint, or even a nicer person. The agent of change is Jesus who gives us life in abundance. It takes away the pusilla anima, a tight soul, in which there is no space for anything other than the ego, and begins to expand our soul, our heart and our mind so that we can conceive our true humanity designed by God.

Wisdom from A. W. Tozer

The pastor and author A. W. Tozer lived from 1897-1963. The epitaph on his tombstone reads, “A. W. Tozer — A man of God.” I found something that Pastor Tozer once wrote about the place of the Bible in our lives:

The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that they may enter into Him, that they may delight in His Presence, may taste and know the inner sweetness of the very God Himself in the core and center of their hearts.

The Bible on the shelf does not feed or nourish you any more than the food left in a pantry. It must be opened, prepared, and ingested with prayer. Only then can it bring you life.

Originally published in Spanish in Blog de la Biblia of the American Bible Society on July 10, 2018.

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Gary Wiley

Gary is a writer and the Spanish Scripture Engagement Content Coordinator for American Bible Society. He lived for many years in Lima, Peru, where he served as pastor and missionary with his family. He lived in New York City for 15 years serving as a pastor. He received a Master of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. He now lives in Merchantville, New Jersey, with his wife, Charlotte. They have been married 40 years and have three adult children and nine grandchildren, and are members of St. Peter Parish in Merchantville.

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