Like many other people, I sometimes find reading the Bible just a bit overwhelming. But when I pick it up and chart my own way in encountering what it has to say, I find things there I never really heard before.
I have a confession to make. I’m not very good at reading the Bible.
I grew up a preacher’s kid. Watching my father up there behind a pulpit teaching and offering biblical insights left an indelible impression on me as a kid. I remember he’d get so passionate about what he was saying that he’d look up at the clock in the school where our church met and remark about how the time flies.
So I’m pretty familiar with most of what you hear from scripture. And I’m grateful for that. Yet even though I’ve had that experience, like many other people I still sometimes find that big extraordinary book of stories and wisdom just a bit overwhelming.
I also know, and this is unfortunate, that sometimes the Bible gets wrongly used. You might hear someone preaching or teaching, and every time they get a chance, they pull a quote from the Bible as if it were a box of crayons—all of them, it turns out, in shades of gray. After a while it numbs you, and all that referencing loses much of its heft.
What can be more unfortunate is when I let myself be so overwhelmed by the Bible that I don’t even pick it up and chart my own way in encountering what it has to say. When I do approach it this way, I find things there I never really heard before. Have you read the last few chapters of Exodus lately? I had no idea God cared so much about interior decoration. Just a little example there.
So as life goes on, that Sunday school familiarity of my childhood appears to me as merely the tip of an iceberg of experience in reading scripture.
I’ll admit there are times when I can’t seem to understand the meaning of what I’m reading and hope that some part of my spirit will pick it up in spite of myself. But other days I do OK. It’s like I’m back in my early years, watching my dad, not always getting his point, but seeing his enthusiasm and his passion, and not noticing the time.
If you’ve read each of these three entries on how reading changes you, thanks.