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Secondhand Jesus

“And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth. As a result, many Jews believed, as did many of the prominent Greek women and men.”

Acts 17:11-12 (NLT)

I looked down at my watch.

We had been standing in a gift shop at the entrance of the zoo for about ten minutes, waiting for my toddler son, Luke, to choose a toy. Luke’s aunt told him he could pick one toy to take home as a treat that day, which appeared to be the biggest decision of Luke’s 2 ½ years of life.

“Do you like the stuffed monkey, buddy?” I said.

“Yes!” said Luke.

“Ok, let’s buy it, and then we’ll go see the animals!”

“No! I want the tiger!”

“Ok, let’s put the monkey back, and we’ll buy the tiger.”

“No! I want the monkey!”

This back-and-forth game of “What toy do I choose?” went on for what felt like days. As I watched Luke battle indecision, I realized we could have easily turned the corner and experienced real monkeys and tigers—living, breathing, furry animals, firsthand. Instead, we were staring at someone else’s interpretation of the real thing.

In that moment, I realized a truth about you and me when it comes to our faith. Instead of encountering Jesus firsthand through scripture, we have secondhand encounters and call them good.

We save a pretty graphic on social media, listen to a one-minute video clip, or read a well-written book about someone else’s encounter with our Heavenly Father. In the exact same amount of time, we could read scripture and experience the love of Jesus through His own words. Who knew a zoo gift shop could be so convicting?

Friend, I realize the irony in sharing this story because I’m a writer who shares my experiences with and about the Lord. But my stories and experiences (along with other teachers, writers, etc.) pale in comparison to having an intimate, growing relationship with Jesus. He’s the real deal.

In Acts 17:11, we see a group of people who understood the importance of going straight to scripture. The people of Berea were knee-deep in false teachings and were surrounded by people who were weaponizing scripture for their own gain. So, what did they do? They took it upon themselves to examine teachings and philosophies, and as a result, placed their faith in Jesus!

The story of these people inspires me, and I hope it does for you as well. Reading the Bible can be intimidating and time consuming, especially as a mom. We have a million things on our plates. I totally get that. But whether you read one verse or twenty, a little bit can go a long way; it doesn’t have to feel overwhelming.

Mama, save the social media graphics, read the books, listen to the podcasts (I do!), but don’t forget the incredible opportunity you have every moment of every day to go directly to your true source of life! You don’t have to settle for a secondhand relationship with Jesus when He died for you to have the real thing.

Your fellow Able Mom,


Lord, thank you for the gift of scripture. Thank you for preserving your Word so we can learn and grow in our faith. Help us to see what a gift our Bibles truly are. Give us wisdom and understanding, as well as discernment and courage to share what we learn so we can lead more people to you. Amen.

Connect with Mandy:

IG: @mandycjohnson

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