So, call it simple, call it difficult, call it cliche, call it productive, call it uncreative, call it a good thing, call it better than nothing, call it a watered down pace from our first century Christian brothers and sisters…no matter how you’d deem bible read-through, it simply is a term that is meant to reflect the opportunity and attempt to be in God’s Word, so in turn, God’s Word would be in us.
I’ve had people fire back at me when I suggest read-through as a means of being with God…everything from, “I don’t have time for that,” to, “I should be reading this thing so much more than just a book a week.” My take on that is, regardless of where you stand on the issue…just read the dang thing! Yes, ideally you would hopefully and prayerfully come to find them as actual love letters penned by His followers in the Spirit’s leading…love letters written to help you, discipline you, and ultimately strengthen you to spill out your new affections in God to the rest of the gone-astray world.
I stand as a living testimony as someone who can, even right beneath the watchful eyes of Seminary of all places, go without reading His Word very much…sometimes not at all. Now, you might think, ‘Yeah, but surely you would have felt the affects of not being in His Word, and surely you would have felt as though you then needed to get back into His Word.’ I wish that were the case. All I allowed into my heart was a sense of guilt, albeit very real and very endeared, about how I knew if I was truly in Love with someone such as Christ, then why would I not want to read more about Him. That said, on I went through my first year here at Seminary…occasionally binging on Bible…I mean, I would read 10-15 books sometimes almost straight through…but other times…most times…I would be surrounded by people that assumed that I was just doing what I should be.
I was able to hold true, deep conversations about God, with God’s people, about content that was steeped in what ought to have been a reflections of a daily routine with God… all that was spoken of by me, without having read His Word in weeks. It was tragic and testimonial to just how Good and Lingering He can be. But, would a marriage be anything but shambles and shame if such inconsistency sustained itself between two lovers? Would you not even call your ‘best friends’ by that title if they simply thought of you often, defended you when you weren’t around, but never spent time with you? You’re either in Love, in the process of falling deeper in Love because of the way you are Loved…or you’re not…in my opinion.
Not everything is rosy or even romantic in marriage, and so the same goes for our walk with God. But, the unconditional Love and renewing affect that awaits us in that relationship does stomp out all the uninspiration and desperation we could ever find ourselves in…
for God’s Love is not simply available, but more powerful than anything…so much so it promises that there has never been a trial ever faced or ever to be faced in our lives that does not come with it the means to endure it, as an overcomer.
And so…whether it’s been any number of the missionary biographies I’ve been reading this past semester, the discipleship that finds me as I met with my mentor once a week, or simply the star-breathing, universe-making God of all ends and beginnings sharing Himself in Spirit with me in the quiet of wherever I stop and slow down to listen…I contend, as I already knew but am now in the throws of experiencing consistently, to be in His Word is to be with Him. To not be in His Word, is to miss out on Him. I actually believe you cannot have the Bible and still be devout to God in your walk.
Many of us over here in the Western Greek context believe that the written Word is hugely important, accessible and a must in order to be with Him. I say that is probably true for those of us who have access to the written Word…after all, why would you not want to read the Love letters of your Lover.
But, what about the man or woman or child who does not have the Bible available to them, who’s never heard of the Bible, and never will hear of the Bible? I think Romans 1:20 allows us to take confidence in the fact that no one will ever be unreached as it were (‘Knowledge of Him is written into creation so none can say, I did not know’). That said, yes, the Bible is invaluable to someone’s walk, so too in the Spirit that we have never known a time to be without its availablity…but the Spirit was not always dwelling inside of us all. Haha, it’s existence has always been, but it’s proximity to most of us only started its reign when it came down in promise in Acts 2.
So again, I contend to our very spiritual affluent western world…with Spirit and Bible (usually more than one) available to us, yes, these things do help immensely with our walk…they’re gifts that are meant for that very reason. But, for the man, woman and child who lived pre-Spirit descension (Acts 2), and even for those now, in this time, who will never have the opporutnity to have their eyes pour over the written Word…I say if you believe in Romans 1:20, then they have just as much chance to walk and worship the God we often find now in the Word.
So, while I apologize for the rant, that was all said simply to sageway the “read-through” blog entries I will be posting. I have been reading at least a book of the Bible ever week this semester and am loving it like never before…not because I’m always even reading “new” stuff, although there should always be new stuff, lest we master God, but simply because it feels more like the interaction of a marriage…I come to Him to be with Him, which is exactly why He comes to me…every day. Staying in His Word with consistency has allowed me to go deeper in prayer, both enriching the long prayer times (sometimes 3 straight hours…that was awesome!) and the “never ceasing without praying times” (1Thess. 5:17).
Knowing the fallen that I am though, I am sure I will most definitely wain in this effort at some point, but again, I think it’s a wonderful accountability and benchmark to have for one’s self to shoot for something of a book a week. Before you immediately jump to, “I don’t have time,” just promise you’ll do what many of us should do and think about all the things you do. Add all that up and then tell me you do not have time. Oh, and by the way, if you loved your spouse but lived a very hectic and demanding life…who cares if you don’t have time, make the time…that should be instinctive…if you Love the person enough. Same with God.
So, enjoy reading His word, whether it’s the tag-lined “read-through or something else…just read it and let Life and Love into your days…and hopefully, I pray, you and God will look more like a marriage relationship than a whenever it’s convenient and easy next door neighbor greeting.