If I can share one truth about God with people interested in knowing him better, what should it be?
That was the question I wrestled with as part of a team leading a week-long camp in Eastern Europe. Activities, a theme song and a logo fell easily into place as soon as we chose an overall theme for the week. The team had been memorizing Psalm 103, and verse 8 seemed to sum it up beautifully, “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love.”
As we designed a camp shirt with the logo on the front and Psalm 103:8 on the back, doubt begin to erode some of my confidence in all that we were planning. I needed reassurance that what were giving our campers was not just fun and memorable, but truth they could hold on to. It was important to me that we represented God in a way that honored him and was accurate.
During that time I was reminded of a scene from the book of Exodus. Moses had requested to see God’s glory. The Lord graciously honored his request and passed in front of Moses with these words, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness…” (Exodus 34:6)
As I read those words again, I got goose bumps. God describes himself in this passage, expanding on the brief definition he gave Moses at the burning bush. As “I AM” reveals his character, the first words he uses are the very words we had chosen from Psalm 103!
I knew then, as I do now, that there is more to be said about God – much more. But this was clearly a good starting place. It summarized the story of his patience with mankind from the first rebellion in the garden to the present day, setting the stage for his bold plan to rescue us from sin and death.
One of the most important things I learned from that experience was the importance of letting God speak for himself, directly from his Word. Because in the end, it doesn't matter nearly as much what I say about him as what He says about himself.
Getting to know God's Heart
God reveals himself to us through the Bible in many different ways such as historical narrative, the words of prophets and apostles, and the poetry of David and others. There are also places where God speaks himself. We can find these self-descriptions in promises he makes, in his responses to his people, and in direct statements about his character. If you're looking for a fresh way to approach Bible reading, try recording in a journal how God is describing himself as you read.