It occurred to me that January was the perfect time to begin not an exercise program or a new diet or a resolution to get my home organized again, but to read through the bible again. Last year I joined a reading challenge, something that wasn’t a stretch for me but more a plan to keep track of what I read and I easily met the goal of 52 books. The new year offers many opportunities to set goals to better ourselves but it had been several years since I made the commitment to read the bible each day, something that is probably a given for my fellow Christians. Somewhat sheepishly I will admit that scripture hasn’t been on my “must read” list for several years. I was content to listen each week in church, giving one hour out of 168 to absorb the Word of God and then going about my business. This year though, I have dedicated the first 15 minutes of each day to this practice, following a reading plan I first used in 1996 that ensures I will have covered the bible by year’s end. What I am discovering won’t surprise anyone, least of all those who habitually begin their day with a devotional, who start each year reading the bible again. The old stories are bringing fresh understanding of our world today, of the ways God wants me to move forward, and clarity to relationships and opportunities. That 15 minutes each day is shaping the other 23 hours and 45 minutes.
With all of my social work and psychology training, I know that children re-experience trauma as they develop, that each new developmental phase into adulthood has them adjusting and making sense of their own stories, to fit into higher levels of thinking and greater understanding of emotions. As a child of God, I need to re-experience the stories shared in the bible anew, my lens has changed, shaped by loss and my steps toward regaining hope. I can truthfully tell you that I figured I knew the books of Genesis and Exodus well enough that a bit of skimming wouldn’t hurt. Instead I have found richness in the lives of some folks that just didn’t seem remarkable in previous readings. The Psalms have always been a source of comfort but now I am underlining different sections, ones that didn’t speak to me directly in the past. The Gospel of Luke has me thinking more about the disciples than ever before. Yes, I am re-experiencing the stories of old friends and finding many new ones, but more than that I am thinking about what the next edition of the bible would say about my life and choices.
What if this is just the first edition, what if the second installment of the story of God’s people is being written even as we speak? Would my life be worthy of mention? Would my story be a cautionary tale or an example of what happens when grace is offered? Will readers 2000 years from now read of my mistakes and think snuggly that they would have of course recognized Jesus as He stood before them, unlike me who misses signs all the time? Will those reading the next edition question why I don’t get that God is speaking to me, that the bush is on fire, that the road is being paved and yet I move forward so fearfully? I whisper “here I am” rather than shout it out? I wonder if my story will be a highlight, an example of caring for the poor and the oppressed. Maybe it will be a tale of one who was given much and yet little return was seen for the Kingdom of God. I am beginning to think a diet plan would have been easier.
Friends, what would the next edition of the bible, the story we are writing with our lives this very day, say about your walk? Give yourself grace if it isn’t the story you want recorded and then start living into your redemption chapter. Maybe you have it all figured out and are pleased with the words on these new pages, yet I encourage you to go even more boldly into sharing your riches. We each have a story that is being written with every choice we make, will you join me in making today the one worthy of the highlights?