About ten years ago, as Advent was approaching, I began to feel that my relationship with God had reached a plateau. Wanting to find deeper meaning in the season, I took one of the Advent calendars provided by our parish which listed each day’s Mass readings.
Then I went to a local bookstore to buy the same Bible that my two daughters had used for their religious education classes.
I brought the calendar and Bible to work with me and began to read the daily readings at lunchtime. I didn’t experience any great conversion or powerful insight. When Advent ended, though, I wanted to keep going. Something kept tugging at me to keep reading. I started with the Gospels, with the goal of finishing them by Easter. In this way, I read the Bible cover to cover. Then I went back to the daily readings, recognizing that, for me, this was the most fruitful way to read Scripture.
At first, my time with Scripture didn’t feel very enlightening. There were no sudden zaps of inspiration or great revelations. I would read several verses and usually didn’t get a lot out of them. But something kept tugging at me to keep going. Gradually, over time I began experiencing God’s word as having a quiet yet miraculous impact. Now it seems that every day, I notice Scripture’s effect on my life.
Scripture Speaks. Just in the course of any ordinary day, I’m faced with difficult issues at work, at home, or with life in general. As an engineering manager, for example, I find it easy to get so caught up in immediate problems that I either forget the people I work with or see only their shortcomings. Countless times I’ve been redirected by coming across a passage like 1 John 4:20-21: "For whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. This is the commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother." I’ve found that the Holy Spirit has a way of smacking me "up-side the head" like this to remind me that all the people I see and talk to every day are children of God, people I am called to treat with love and respect.
Over these past years, Scripture has also helped me in my relationship with my daughters. Both are intelligent and wonderful young ladies, but as they’ve matured from children to young adults, I’ve had to go through a significant transition. I found this process particularly difficult with my younger daughter—the one my wife says is just like me! For a while, I could not seem to communicate with her; in fact, all my attempts just made things worse. Psalm 105:4 finally reminded me where to turn: "Rely on the mighty Lord; constantly seek his face." As I turned to God in prayer and asked for his help, many good things happened. My daughter and I found our way through our crisis, and our relationship is growing again.
At times Scripture has spoken to me in more dramatic ways. In my parish, I’m a cantor and choir member, and I really enjoy singing and leading the congregation in song. Perhaps it isn’t surprising, then, that God has called out to me through the words of a song I particularly enjoy—like the one based on Psalm 63: "My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God."
Other times, it is the daily readings that speak to me. How often it happens that a verse or a few words spotlight some area of my life that I am concerned about or am not addressing as I should! In one period of my career, I was engaged in some heavy soul-searching about "getting ahead," struggling to find the balance between self-confidence and self-promotion. In the thick of the battle, Mark 9:35 outlined my priorities: "Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all." God was telling me that while it’s good to use my abilities and work hard, my career should not come first in my life.
Alert to the Spirit. Over these past ten years of reading Scripture almost every day, my faith has grown incredibly. I have come to know and trust that Jesus is with me every moment, in everything I do, in good times and bad. There’s not one single thing I can’t talk to him about and not one single difficulty that he can’t overcome! The verse that sums it all up for me is Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through him who strengthens me."
Praying with Scripture has also taught me to listen more to the Holy Spirit. Almost two years ago, this listening led me to answer our bishop’s call to consider becoming a deacon. God willing, I will be ordained in 2011. This is not what I ever would have anticipated for my life—talk about the transforming power of the word of God!
Looking back, I can see now that it was the Holy Spirit who prodded me to pick up that Bible and Advent calendar ten years ago. Little did I know it was the beginning of a wonderful change in my life—the discovery of a light showing me the path to greater love of Jesus. n
Tom Krulikowski and his family are members of St. Louise de Marillac Parish in Bethel Park, Pennsylvania.