As I packed my Christmas decorations to store for another year, I unintentionally spent a few extra minutes staring at the three wise men in my nativity set. For some reason looking at those characters brought to mind the titles of three books: the Holy Bible, the Weight Down Workshop, and the Artist’s Way. Knowing this was not a coincidence, I sat down and waited for the connection between these two seemingly unrelated things. Here’s what came to mind:
The three wise men presented valuable gifts of frankincense, myrrh and gold to baby Jesus.—
I consider the three mentioned books valuable gifts to me (and others of course).
The three wise men spent time with the holy family.
I can’t begin to tally the number of hours I spend reading these books.
The wise men’s lives were no doubt transformed by the holy experience.
My life was transformed by these books.
And that is the crux of the matter. Just like the three wise men were transformed by their experience with Jesus, so too was I transformed by Jesus through these books. Let me explain more fully, starting with my first gift—the Holy Bible.
I was introduced to the Bible at a young age. Through my attendance at Sunday school, worship service, and special programs, I learned scriptures and the teachings of Jesus Christ. This gave me a clear understanding of how I was supposed to act (even though I didn’t/don’t always act right), a strong moral foundation (even though my foundation cracked/cracks from time to time), and a sense of belonging (as a member of the family of believers). I also think the Bible was one of the original books that stirred my creative nature. Have you noticed how many great stories are in the Bible? …the wise, colorful parables? …the beautiful language, poems, and words? It truly is an amazing book and I am forever grateful to my elders for introducing me to it.
As I matured, I continued my Christian walk, engaging in ministry work, tithing, and attending Bible study. In one particular Bible study group, I was introduced to the Weight Down Workshop (WD). WD is a weight loss program that marries faith with dieting. I joined the program expecting to shrink in dress size and grow in faith, which I did. But the most amazing outcome was I met God face-to-face. What do I mean? I learned that after all those years of going to church, studying the Bible and more, I only had head knowledge of God. I didn’t view God as “real,” as someone with whom I could develop a deep, intimate relationship. To me, God was a symbol, a concept, an unattainable entity. WD revised my view of God. One of the exercises in the workbook challenged me to select a task for God to perform and to make that task so specific that I would know without a doubt it was Him. So for my task I said, “Okay God, if you’re real, you’re going to make my Bible fall open to a specific passage that will not only prove you’re real but also prove you love me.” I picked up my Bible and let it fall open. My eyes went straight to a passage that met my criteria. I was blown away! I remember crying and praising God. It felt like my heart grew four times larger…and warmth; I felt such warmth. And here it is years later and I’m still so very grateful to WD for my second, life-changing gift–making God real to me so that I could begin a heart relationship with Him.
As my heart relationship with God grew so too did my faith, and the biggest boost to my faith came through the Artist’s Way. This workbook/journal liberated me to pursue a life of purpose. But how did that increase her faith? you may be thinking. Can I tell you the fear I felt at giving up a steady paycheck and benefits? Can I tell you the monumental faith that is required to live day-by-day? It’s been almost two years since I left the path of the “tried-and-true-and-dissatisfied” to follow the path of purpose. And even though there have been many rough patches, I can honestly admit I would make the same decision if I had a do-over. Want to increase your faith? Step off the path of the tried-and-true and live day-by-day, following God’s commands. Talk about a faith walk but oh what a transformative gift!
So there you have it. The connective link that ties the three wise men to three wise books–being transformed into a better Ann. What about you? What three books, songs, poems, people, lessons, etc. have been especially transformative in your life?