Meeting God in the Scriptures: A Story of Hope

Written By: Sierra Okoniewski


March 28, 2023

I guess clarity is a good word,” Ryan said. “I remember sitting in my room when everything clicked. I wept at the goodness of God — that He died to save me. I understood the Gospel; I understood salvation.”

In 2015, Ryan Vieth accepted an invitation from a coworker to a Good Friday service at Woodside. It was his first time ever attending an evangelical church.

Growing up, Jesus was never a priority,” Ryan said. “In a moral sense, our family was good. We just stopped going to church. In my early twenties, I struggled with anxiety, worth, and value. Basically, am I good enough in this world? Am I going to make it? That was my heart’s biggest question. I was always worried about the future.”

The primary focus in Ryan’s family was the value of education, and he attended Oakland University for accounting with his two brothers. But even though he was doing well in school, Ryan wrestled with understanding his purpose.

My worldview was ‘be a good person’ and ‘try to do your best,’” he said. “I thought that being successful with a career or money would bring satisfaction. I remember thinking that once I obtained that, I would find worth and value. But if you asked me the meaning of life, I wouldn’t have been able to answer that.”

A few weeks after visiting Woodside with his coworker, Ryan started regularly attending services at Woodside Troy with a friend from college. For several months, he sat and listened to the teaching on Sunday mornings while also attending a Catholic church in the evenings.

I was 25,” he said. “It was at that point that I was like, ‘Well, if I’m going to try this Christian thing, then I’m going to read the Bible.’ I was never anti-God. I just didn’t care. And I just figured, ‘Why not try this?’ So, I cracked the Bible for the first time.”

Beginning in Matthew, Ryan started reading through the Gospels. His weekly rhythm shifted from going out drinking on Fridays and Saturdays to studying the Word and attending a bi-weekly small group.

My life just kind of flipped,” he said. “I quickly figured out what Jesus was about. It sounds very simple — I was reading the Gospel of John, and the light switch turned on. At that point, I understood God’s love for me. It felt very emotional — like, Jesus died for me. It just carries so much weight. Jesus died to save me.”

Ryan began attending Collective that fall and was baptized in April of 2016. He now serves as a student small group leader at Woodside Troy and hosts Tuesday night Bible studies at his apartment.

Since then,” Ryan said, “I’m just really trying to walk with the Lord daily. And we continuously need His grace. Once you become a believer, you don’t not sin — you’re just aware of it. It was that summer that I understood the Gospel. Just the need for Jesus.”

In his album, “Lyrical Theology,” Christian rapper Shai Linne speaks to encountering the Lord through the application of His Word. For Ryan, this reality especially hits home.

I hang onto lyrics,” Ryan said. “[Linne] has a song called “Random Thoughts 3.” He says, ‘I met God in the Scriptures.’ And that’s really what I feel happened to me. I was reading Matthew, Mark, and Luke — and then I saw the heart of Jesus. The Bible shows us the heart of God.

Ryan’s story emphasizes the importance of regularly seeking God in His living Word. The Holy Spirit ministers to our souls through the application of the Scriptures, as the author of Hebrews observes:

…the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. — Hebrews 4:12

The Bible isn’t just ancient history; it’s a way for the Lord to speak to us now, in our present reality. It’s a means for us to learn God’s character and understand that the Old Testament and New Testament complete each other perfectly, with beautiful precision. It’s an avenue for us to pursue Christ wholeheartedly by meditating on His words and allowing ourselves to be shaped and changed by His life.

The Bible is so important to understand who the one true living God is,” Ryan said. “If I’m in Christ, then I’m in a relationship with God. And I think we should challenge ourselves to press in closer to that so we can really find joy. Jesus gives — not only me, but everyone else — worth, meaning, and value.”

To the believer,” he continued, “I challenge you to continuously read the Scriptures to recalibrate and see the truth — not of the God that we often want to fit our agenda, but the One true God of the Bible. To the unbeliever — I challenge you to search and test the Scriptures to see who Jesus is. He is the only one that can satisfy the deepest longings of the human heart.”