Why do I feel called to Emmaus Ministries? Why would I stand in front of a classroom of people and give a lecture on a Bible book, especially being an introvert by nature? Why don’t I go back to school and pursue another degree? Why in a time when thoughts, ideas and knowledge are accessible worldwide at all times via the power of the internet, don’t I just share what I’ve learned via my blog and bite sized facebook status nuggets? Why would I embrace a missionary life of support raising rather than having my time measured in hours and salaries?
I am the “why.”
Don’t take me as saying I am doing this for myself. Don’t misunderstand it as some deep gratitude that stirs the compulsion to “give back” to a ministry that’s impacted me. What I mean is, the change in me is so profound and so vital that I want everyone to experience it. I want every Christ follower to feel confident interacting with scripture.
For 15 years I tried to read my Bible. Instead of feeling deeper understanding, connection and security in my relationship with God, I always felt one of 3 worries:
- Am I saved enough?
- Am I spiritual enough?
- Am I smart enough?
I would open my Bible and begin to read, knowing that these words are supposed to mean something to me. Weren’t people sometimes moved to tears by scripture? Wasn’t this the single most important book in a believer’s life? Shouldn’t I FEEL something when I read this? The worry crept in, the doubt pushed down on my shoulders, an unwelcome voice in my mind asked, “Are you really saved?” The idea that I could have fully embraced salvation and yet, not have my emotions moved at all when I read the Bible seemed incompatible.
I would buy the latest recommended devotional, a beautiful journal, and pens that wrote in the smoothest strokes. I would set an alarm to wake up early, brew fancy coffee and find the best possible natural lighting. Then, I would open up my journal, my devotional book and my Bible. Surely, with this inspirational book to guide my reading I would connect with God’s word. I would try and squeeze every last holy thought out of my brain and onto the ornately decorated paper and it would feel like a struggle. It was a chore. I dreaded my alarm because I knew I was going to have to go try really hard to read scripture again. The intrusive voice in my mind would ask, “Are you spiritual enough?” Surely a carefully crafted quiet time with all the proper accessories should evoke something other than annoyance in me?
I would scour the shelves at Christian bookstores, dutifully listen to pastor’s recommendations and read reviews about scholarly materials on the Bible. I felt that there may be some sort of book ABOUT the Bible that would help. Perhaps there was an academic resource that would find the key to unlock my heart so that I could finally connect with God. I was knee deep in “The Weight of Glory” by CS Lewis (and a dictionary as well, because I often didn’t know the words Lewis was using) when that voice invaded my thoughts yet again and asked, “Are you smart enough?” Was it possible that I just wasn’t going to “get it?”
These scenarios and questions happened in various ways over the years and left me with the underlying concern that maybe, just maybe, I wasn’t ever going to be able to confidently engage the Bible. I resigned myself to diligently reading it, but never expecting much. I certainly stopped seeking a way that would affect change in me both inward and outwardly. I embraced the “fake it til you make it” motto and wondered when the “make it” part would kick in.
Then, I found myself at Emmaus School of Biblical Studies. In 10 months I read the entire Bible, ALL the books, even the weird ones! I devoured scripture and poured over chapters repeatedly, absolutely relishing in what I was not only learning, but what I was feeling! The person that walked in that classroom in 2018 doesn’t exist anymore, I never worry that I’m unqualified to read my Bible for any reason! I have absolutely clutched my Bible to my chest and had my breath catch in my throat with gratitude that these words were given to us.
I want every believer to feel that same way. I never want them to question if they are in some way personally deficient in the area of their Bible. If there is any way that God can use me to help people confidently approach and engage scripture, then I am all in! He first called me to Emmaus, as a student, to change my heart and teach my mind. Now, he’s called me to Emmaus, as a staff member, to send me out to help others do likewise. Are there other things I could be doing? Of course! Is there anything else I want to be doing? Not a chance!
If you’re interested in partnering with me in this mission, click the link below and designate to Morgan Phaneuf.