At the start of this year, I made a shocking confession to God — I was tired of reading the Bible the way I had always read it.
Now, for a preacher, I know that sounds borderline blasphemous, but let me explain. For more years than I can count, one of my regular spiritual practices has involved starting my reading with Genesis in January and ending in December with Revelation.
Admittedly, reading through the Bible is not easy. For one thing, the thought occurs that, yes, I am reading through the Bible, but how is the Bible reading me? I am getting into the Scriptures, but are the Scriptures getting into my life? Am I just better informed, or am I becoming a better person because of my reading through the Bible?
And then there are certain books during my year-long quest that I have dreaded reading through: Leviticus, with its blood and sacrifices; the two books of Chronicles, with all the mind-numbing lists; Isaiah, formidable in its 66 stentorian chapters; Song of Solomon, and all its erotic poetry; and the minor prophets, filled with God’s scary denunciation of sinful nations. People tell me these are some of the books that hinder them from reading all the way through to Revelation.
This year, I am trying something different: I am spending a month in each book of the Bible — or that’s what I hope to do. So I spent the month of January reading through Genesis five different times, and I encountered God in ways that led me to worship. Pastors may lead worship but don’t always worship!
In February, I am reading Exodus, with its 40 chapters, at least six times.
This slow reading of Scripture is touching my mind and emotions in some weird ways. For example, as I read these words in Exodus 33:7,11 — Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, far off from the camp; he called it the tent of meeting. And everyone who sought the Lord would go out to the tent of meeting, which was outside the camp. Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend — I couldn’t read these words without weeping.
I am not weeping with sorrow but with delight that God loves us and wants us to walk and talk with him. Moses and the people had a place where they would meet with God. I long for that level of friendship with God.
Why am I doing this? Not for sermon fodder. Nor I am not reading Scripture to fill my mind with factoids. I am reading through Scripture because I need God. I want to know God. I am lost without God’s wisdom in my life. Well before I became a pastor, I was (and still am today) a disciple of Jesus Christ. I read and ponder these ancient words because that’s what disciples do.
May the Lord stir up within His Church such deep cravings for Scripture. And may his words satisfy our restless souls and grant us peace.
If you are reading the Bible in 2018, how is God’s Word speaking into your life?