I've learned many lessons while riding a bicycle, but I was not expecting this one.
My hubby and I enjoy pedaling together, especially in the summer. We live near wonderful cycling trails and have our favorite local rides. The beauty of local is knowing the route, which in turn means knowing the “pit stops.” The most recent lesson took place at one of our frequented “pit stops.” The restrooms have recently been refurbished and are located in the midst of a large national park; this portion of the park is home to a beautiful waterfall. People come from all over the country - and even all over the world - to admire this waterfall, a beautiful and magnificent testimony to God and His creative power. When stopping here, we frequently meet people who are lost. Even though they are so very close to the glorious waterfall, they don’t know how to find it. They need help. And it’s always a joy to point them in the right direction. Maybe that is why I love working with Simply Bible? It is a joy to point others to God through His Word!
On this particular morning, the park was hopping with hikers and sightseers. The restrooms were busy and temporarily closed while the park rangers cleaned and tidied things up. People waited outside. One family included three generations of Chinese women, a woman - I’ll guess in her forties - with her daughter by her side was talking with her elderly mother who was clearly visiting from China and did not speak English. They chatted away in Mandarin and my ears and heart were burning. Having lived in China for three years, I knew some Mandarin and longed to join in their conversation, but my Mandarin is a little rusty. So I listened.
They were talking about me.
This same scenario happened frequently while living in China. As a foreigner first learning to speak the language, I was an eager-beaver to practice my stumbling, two-year old version of Mandarin with anyone who would listen and converse. I quickly learned to explain that I am from America, married and have four children. At the time, China had a one child policy and so a family of six was highly unusual. Discussing my family and four children always opened the door for conversation. But after a while, I became slightly more confident in my language abilities. I learned to wait and listen. By waiting and listening, I often found the sales clerks were talking about me, the foreigner. It was fun and delighted my heart to surprise them by joining into the conversation!
In this instance, while waiting for the restrooms, the Chinese woman who lived in the US was explaining to her mother from China that we most likely were biking on the trails in the area. I made eye contact and smiled. My smile overflowed from a smiling heart! I loved hearing 自行车（zi-xing-che）which is bicycle, another activity I enjoyed while living in China since I was unable to legally drive a car there. The woman noticed my smile and explained to me in perfect English what she had been telling her mom. Her mom smiled and nodded her head vigorously. She truly thought our cycling was wonderful.
I merely replied with two simple words: 谢谢 (xie xie) which is “thank you” in Mandarin.
Oh. My. Goodness. Her face lit up like a Christmas tree!
There is something powerful about hearing your mother tongue in a foreign land. Her delighted response at hearing her own language gave me courage to try a little more of my rusty, old Mandarin. We conversed a bit with the help of her daughter and even had our photo taken together to commemorate the joy of our friendship. And then, this 奶奶 (nai nai, grandma) blessed me. Her strong hand hugged my waist tightly and with her daughter translating, she told me, “You are so strong and so beautiful!”
“You are so strong and so beautiful!”
My brain and my soul hardly knew how to receive such beautiful words. In some way, I have been radiating since this encounter. When I am biking, I do not feel strong, nor do I feel beautiful! But after that pit stop, with Nai Nai’s hug and words of encouragement, I soared up the hills and enjoyed the beautiful, but not so easy bike ride.
“You are so strong and so beautiful!”
Her words ring within my heart and mind even today as I reflect and sip on my 龙金叉, Dragon Well green tea.
Friend, do you, like me, need to hear: “You are so strong and so beautiful?”
Then I invite you to God’s Word. In the Bible, we find a strong and beautiful God Who values us and desires to make us strong and beautiful in ways we could never imagine. In the midst of this earthly journey full of its uphill climbs and perils of various kinds, we don’t need to be anxious, confused or afraid. Through the Bible, God reminds us that He is with us, and He generously provides for our needs out of His own strength and beauty.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1
In this dry and weary land where we sojourn, God longs to give us hugs and words of love. He does this through the gifts of His Word and His Spirit. This is how we know and enjoy Him. This is where He speaks our love language. So as we open up the pages of the Bible, we don’t just find black words on white pages, we find His strength, love and joy. We find words of life, abundant life that refreshes wilted, anxious hearts, minds and even bodies.
Isaiah describes God's Word this way:
For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Isaiah 55:10-12
Simply Bible exists to help us know and enjoy God through His Word. When we do, we come alive! We are refreshed by God and His love, peace and joy. He makes us strong and beautiful!
Would you partner with us on our mission of knowing and enjoying God by serving and giving? Please join or lead a study with your local church group. Or simply share God’s Word with a friend over coffee (or tea!) If you don’t have a group readily accessible, join our online studies. God does not intend for us to be lone rangers, but to study His Word in community. Through relationships, we hug and remind one another of God’s promises and pray to be strong and beautiful in Christ.
Nearly everyone around us needs to hear "you are strong and you are beautiful," but many things keep us from knowing and experiencing God. Life is busy. Sometimes we feel inept in how to read the Bible. Sometimes we just flat-out feel overwhelmed by life. This is precisely why we need one another. Join us in God’s Word. And today, invite a friend to join you, too.
We all have friends in our circles of influence who need reminded that in Christ, “You are so strong and so beautiful."
Lord God, we praise You for You are so strong and so beautiful and worthy of our praise. Thank You for Your gifts: Your Word, Your Spirit, Your strength, and Your beauty. You know that in the midst of life, we often feel weak, downtrodden, and downright ugly. Help us and help our dear ones to know and experience Your strength and beauty through the Bible. Make us brave to be ambassadors of Your Word that others might hear: In Christ, you are strong and beautiful!
Friend, we would LOVE to hear from you! We soar when we hear news of how you are knowing and enjoying God through Simply Bible! Take a moment to share what you are studying and how you are growing with God. Contact us here.
Get ready for Simply Bible Exodus this fall! Subscribers will receive information directly in your inbox. Not sure if you're subscribed? Contact us here.