Word of the Week: For When the Familiar Becomes New


July 13, 2014 by Beth Hess

Proverbs4-20-22Alone with my thoughts at the water’s edge, it matters not that the skies are cloudy and the winds brisk. The sand is warm beneath me. The shells a collection of color and texture and detailed beauty. The water over my feet is cooler than I expected. The undertow stronger. The splashing up my calves comes as a surprise, too. But not an unwelcome one.

The beach is full of people on holiday. A new family documents baby’s first visit to the shore. Two women walk arm in arm with an elderly man. This visit, perhaps, his last. Here the fullness of life ebbs and flows with the tides.

And I think on the relentlessness of the waves. And the soaring of the pelicans. And the vastness of the grains of sand. And the irony of how the power of it all has the most amazing calming effect on my soul.

I think on how the wind and waves obey Him. And how, I, too, find it easier to hear Him with surf as the backdrop of our conversation.

No matter how many times I revisit this spot, I fall in love all over again. Familiar, but new. The same, but ever renewing itself.

It falls on me fresh. Every. Single. Time.

I am finding the same is true as I return to The Word.

I thought I knew a lot about the Bible. 40 years of Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, campus ministries, small group study, and hours spent in various sanctuaries in every town in which I’ve lived led me to that conclusion.

Start a verse, I can probably finish it. Find Psalms by flipping to the middle of the book? You betcha! Recite the books of the New Testament in order? Probably.

But my journey with Jesus through this Word of the Week project has opened my heart and my spirit to “old” verses in new ways. An often visited passage looks different in this season of my life. And I discover things I never new existed in these pages.

Turns out I did know a lot ABOUT the Bible. But, now, I’m truly seeking to know the Bible itself. Even more, the heart of the One whose story it is. The One whose grace is inked on every page.

And this reading, more times then not, is the difference between watching a romantic comedy and actually falling in love. Not. Even. Close.

Because until I let the waves of His words dance at my feet, splash my calves, and wash completely over my head, there is no KNOWING of the fullness of their life-giving powers. Their heart-penetrating quality. Their freshness. Their healing. Their life.

My child, pay attention to what I say.
    Listen carefully to my words.
Don’t lose sight of them.
    Let them penetrate deep into your heart,
for they bring life to those who find them,
    and healing to their whole body. (Proverbs 4:20-22)

So I return here, too. To the Word. And visit as often as I can.

Because, it turns out: No matter how many times I revisit this spot, I fall in love all over again. Familiar, but new. The same, but ever renewing itself.

And I, too, become new.


I return each Sabbath for a fresh Word of the Week. For the God-breathed pages to come alive in a phrase or two on which to spend a 7-day feast. To meditate upon. To use as a jumping off point for whatever other words God would have me hear during the week. I would love for you to join the Word of the Week (WOW) discussion by adding your selected verse to the comments … or reflections on any scripture reading. 

Linking with Unforced Rhythms — a wonderful community of writers who gather each Monday to share with you HERE.


12 thoughts on “Word of the Week: For When the Familiar Becomes New

  1. Thanks for sharing this. Your enthusiasm for renewed discoveries in God’s Word is catching! So glad you stopped by Doorkeeper this week. Blessings!


  2. Beth, it’s bringing a smile to my face that we both wrote on our different relationship with the Word this week. As I read your reflection, though, with all its layers of beauty and nuance, I sense a freshness and joy that I honestly don’t have. Yours makes me thirsty and hopeful, that I, too, can fall in love with the scriptures again, but in a different way than I have before. I have sought to fall in love for a long time. And so I remember the words of A.W. Tozer I read so many years ago, how they are still one of the most heartfelt prayers I know: “O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need for further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, so that I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, ‘Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away.’ Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long.”


    • Beth Hess says:

      Those words from Tozer are so powerful. Thank you for sharing them. What I think I’m finding, Amber, is that I am slowly relearning to love the scriptures by letting them love on me first. I’m still just nibbling. One verse a week that sinks slowing into my spirit that leads to the next one. And, you’re right, it is leading to a bubbling joy that is different than I’ve know before. It still has not led to a “quiet time” or reading chapters on end. Here again, God is showing me, that a pile of pebbles can build a big altar.


  3. I love what you are doing with the word of the week. What beauty in your quiet reflection. I love it.


  4. Sharon says:

    Oh yes, I understand. I love how the Lord makes His Word come alive. How I can be reading a verse that I’ve read a million times before, and then – POW! – He brings some nuance of meaning that I’ve never thought of before! His Word speaks, and it is always fresh and relevant.

    I also like taking Scripture and personalizing it to me – inserting my name in the place of the nation of Israel, or other *general* people, and changing the verse as if God is speaking it. You wouldn’t believe how much it brings the message right to my heart.

    Take something as familiar as John 3:16-17, for instance:

    “For I loved you, Sharon (Beth), so much that I gave My one and only Son, so that if you believe in him, you will not perish but have eternal life. I sent My Son into the world not to judge you, Sharon (Beth), but to save YOU through him.”

    Amen and amen!



    • Beth Hess says:

      Personalizing the scriptures is a great tip, Sharon. It does make things come alive in a new way. POW, indeed! Thank you for stopping by and your encouragements.


  5. Lovely, Beth. Also having grown up in church and memorized for quizzing, studied in seminary, I’ve been on a hiatus from the bible except when teaching or when a passage calls to me form memory, but I’m feeling an invitation to return again, as you say, anew because we also are being remade again and again as the words fall on new places. Thank you for your reminder today.


    • Beth Hess says:

      Kelly, I’ve found, too, seasons where the Bible feels too familiar. Which, of course, has everything to do with the state of my spirit and nothing to do with the richness of the Word. But I always find, when I return, that I forgot how good it tastes. Thanks for your comment.


  6. Simply Beth says:

    I come here after spending time in His words this morning and smile over what you have shared. The Bible is still new to me but every time I choose time with Him over something else I am truly blessed. His word breathes life into my soul. May they penetrate deep into my heart. I love your Monday posts, Beth. Wishing you a wonderful week. Blessings. xoxo


    • Beth Hess says:

      I sometimes wish, Beth, that I were reading things for the first time … unclouded by the things that make them feel too comfortable, too familiar, not magical enough. But God is gracious enough to renew them to me again and again. Glad to hear the Word does the same for you, friend.


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