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The Short Answer Is…

By Marlene Houk

Burke CountyMarlene Houk Burke County


 “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105

Ten young girls ringed the Sunday School classroom. Diversity abounded in their beauty, health, and education. They attended four high schools in our county and lived with a variety of families. But all of them desperately needed a short answer for living that would serve them well. Short answers linger in our minds and often appeal to brief attention spans, especially in youth.

My first class with fourteen and fifteen-year-olds began. Could I bridge two generations from my age to theirs and effectively offer Gospel truth? How could I point them to Jesus in thirty short minutes each Sunday? What powerful words should I use to embed life principles they could use for the rest of their lives?

After two years, I realized teaching provided opportunities to hone my skills and cross-generational barriers. Insight into their mindsets, fears, and hopes still linger in my heart today. They encouraged me to reduce the truth to as few words as possible. I began to repeat three simple yet profound words, “My short answer is…” as a way of answering their questions and discussing how to apply the Bible to daily life. I completed the sentence by repeating three words often, “Read your Bible.”

Simple yet profound—read your Bible. My daughter created the Read Truth Together ministry, and she often shares powerful Bible verses that direct my day, inspire me toward holiness, and nourish my soul. I cling to the divine words as I journey through my day. Like a family story remembered by one word, my daughter and I remind each other of favorite Bible verses.

In the Bible, divinely told drama overflows with words that send us spinning around twists and turns of the Master Storyteller’s cliffhangers, our mouths hanging open. Frankly, I can’t imagine racing toward 400 angry men who had orders to kill my people. (Read Abigail’s story in 1 Samuel 25.) Who finds the courage to face ethnic cleansing, pivot its hatred to peace, and emerge after enriching her world with the knowledge of God? (Read the book of Esther.) Or, imagine the breathtaking thrill of seeing Jesus’ empty grave at the pivotal point of all history. Surreal. Beyond mortal life. Electrifying. To find hours of thrill-seeking life events with deep satisfying treasures for your soul, read your Bible.

Beyond the drama of Scripture with its hidden riches of healing, the Bible fills our hearts with purpose, a plan for life, and power we can use for good. God designed us to find our soul’s home within the pages of His Holy Word. Life’s cruelties and crises fade into the background of eternity when we read our Bibles. Our boat stops rocking in the waters of life, and we steer toward the lighthouse on the shore. The balm of Gilead soothes our wounded souls, and we rise to face another day, our hearts renewed with a greater sense of purpose. Verses such as 1 Samuel 22:33 and Philippians 1:6 offer a secure, confident plan to pursue goals. The incredible inner power of the Trinity surges through our words as we share inspired truths. Read your Bible to find this purpose, plan, and power.

Reading our Bible helps us to climb over overwhelming emotions. We crest the summit of anger and drink in the beauty of His love and care for us. The Holy Spirit helps us remember Bible stories that remind us of our troubles. He helps us to refocus as we return to seeing life through God’s viewpoint, and the world’s horizon levels. As we look beyond our circumstances to eternity, the Lord clarifies our spiritual vision, adding another stepping stone to our faith in Him. Worshipping and praising Jesus works to restore peace and diverts our attention from ourselves to the Almighty who directs our lives. Read your Bible to find the reality that rules over rage. Wear the mantle of Esther and discover the God who redeems harsh storms in life.

After 59 years of reading, meditating, memorizing, and exploring the depths and heights of the Bible, I’m still stunned by its power. I gaze into vast diamond mines of truth within its passages and stare at awesome vistas of eternity. Plunging into its healing waters, I’m amazed that simply reading the Bible gives us access to all this and more. From Genesis through Revelation, I walk through its grand rooms, marveling at its intricacies and absorbing its attention to tiny details. The excellent architecture and sweeping airy interiors of its chambers delight my hunger for freedom and beauty. As I read my Bible, the Master Teacher condenses powerful truths in my soul. He empowers me to offer short answers from its pages, packed with truth.

Now, years later, I hope that my short answer, read your Bible, still rings in the memories of my former Sunday School girls. I know that if they’ve searched the Scriptures, they’ve found bold answers to their questions about life. God honors the reading of His Word, and every “word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”


Marlene is an author and teacher of Bible studies. She may be reached at

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Blue Ridge Christian News covers Avery County, Burke County, McDowell County, Mitchell County, Yancey County, and Madison County in North Carolina, and Christian news from around the country.