On the Journey
By Rick Hamlin

Three Bible Verses to Live By

If you could read only three Bible verses, what would they be?

Mary C. Neal shared her extraordinary near-death experience in the mountains of southern Chile with Guideposts. Her kayak was trapped under a waterfall and her soul escaped from her body, flying to heaven’s gate. She survived and returned to her home in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where both she and her husband are spinal surgeons. It was there in the hospital that she had another extraordinary experience.

During her recovery, friends from church visited her bedside and brought her some magazines to read. Despite usually having 20/20 vision, she found the pages too blurry to read. She turned on the TV. It was too blurry to see. Even the nurse looked blurry. “Is there a Bible here?” Mary asked. The nurse gave her a Gideon’s Bible.

She looked for some familiar psalms and couldn’t read them. Even her favorite verse of Paul’s, “I can do all thing through him who strengthens me,” was too blurry to read. Frustrated, Mary kept flipping through pages. Only one verse became clear: Rejoice always. (I Thessalonians 5:16)

It seemed a directive from God. She should rejoice in her current situation. We should rejoice always.

Later that day, a second verse also became clear: Pray without ceasing. (I Thessalonians 5:17)

Of course she would pray. Prayer would be the route to her recovery. She began to see her life and each breath she was given as a prayer to God and a way to pray for others.

Then one last verse became visible: Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God’s in Christ Jesus for you. (I Thessalonians 5:18)

The rest of the Bible and even faces of people who visited her continued to blur, and she couldn’t read anything except those three verses. She couldn’t watch TV and she didn’t feel like talking to anyone. All she did was read and re-read those three verses and meditate on them.

Mary eventually recovered; you can learn more of her story in this amazing video. But I keep thinking of the gift in her story about the three verses. What Bible verses are most essential for life? If I had to choose only three, I would be hard-pressed to do worse than what the Lord gave Mary Neal those days in the hospital. She couldn’t see clearly in many ways, but in this one way she had perfect sight.

Rick Hamlin is the executive editor of Guideposts magazine and the author of 10 Prayers You Can't Live Without. To learn more about the book and explore your own prayer journey, watch this video.

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I enjoy the Guideposts very much! Always inspiring stories and scriptures to meditate on. I bought this book about Mary Neal and her near-death experience and have shared it with several of my friends to read also. Look forward to more stories of God's amazing power in our lives. Thank you.