The Bible Dares You to Fill in the Blanks

Once upon a time, I loved Mad Libs. In case you don’t remember this particular cultural phenomenon, Mad Libs was a book of short, simple stories. But each story had a number of blank lines in it. Each blank line was marked with a particular part of speech – noun, verb, adjective, and so on. One person would interview another person and ask them for random nouns, verbs, adjectives and the like and fill in the blanks. In the end, you would have a story with the blanks filled in but with random words that didn’t always fit. 

The results were predictably hilarious because you could fill in the blanks with virtually anything, and sometimes bizarre, words. Sure, the story would end up nonsensical, but that was the point. It was to think of the most outlandish ways to fill in those blanks and then sit back and enjoy how it all came together.

Wouldn’t it be nice if life were a little like that? That you could fill in the blanks?

In such a world, you would say, “For dinner tonight, I’m going to have _________.” And you could put anything in that blank that you wanted. Or you could say, “I’m going to take a trip to __________”, and you would magically have the means to visit that place immediately. Of course, life doesn’t work like that. There are all kinds of limitations and exceptions that keep us from just filling in those blanks. Time, money, access – these limit the ways all those blanks can be filled in.

So life doesn’t work that way, but maybe the Bible does. At least in a sense. In fact, maybe the Bible actually invites us – even dares us – to fill in some of the blanks.

Take for example Romans 8:28:

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.

This is such an invitation. We are invited to drill down on “all things” and do our best to fill in that blank. Sickness? Trouble? Job loss? Those are all big, significant, life-changing things, and you can fill in the blank with those. But you can also fill in the blank with traffic, interruptions to your schedule, or a dinner time conversation. Those are small things. In either case, fill in the blank because all things work together for our good.

Or this blank, from 1 Corinthians 10:13:

No temptation has come upon you except what is common to humanity. But God is faithful; he will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to bear it.

Fill in the blank with whatever temptation you are facing today. It still works, without exception.

Or one more, this one from Matthew 16:18:

And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.

There’s a blank to be filled in here, too, for there has always been a challenge to the church of the day. Governmental challenges, cultural challenges, doctrinal challenges – these have always been there. Fill in the blank with whatever’s most current, and it still works – the church will endure. The church will go on.

We could go on and on, and there will still be more blanks to be filled in. But because of the certainty of God, because of His unchanging nature, and because of His rock solid promises to us in Christ, the blanks will always be filled in. Despite our best efforts to find the exception, we cannot. We will not. And praise the Lord we can’t.

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