Pretty impulsively, I decided to jump on the wagon that was rumbling by my facebook page, and started reading through the Bible in 90 days with about 170 other people nation-wide. The church that pulled us all together is called the Back Packer Church, which i guess is what caught my attention in the first place.
i have a confession to make. (dramatic pause)
I have never read the Bible.
Of course I’ve read scriptures and even whole chapters strung together at a time. Perhaps even a book or two – Isn’t Jude like 2 pages? I’ve grown up hearing scriptures and have taken multiple bible classes – old and new testaments, but i’ve never read it straight through. This seems like a crying shame, seeing how my faith governs every aspect of my life, and this one collection of books bound in leather is what that faith is built on. So… Here I go.
I’m currently on day 8. It’s odd how easy it’s been so far (which saying so I find myself suddenly compelled to do some sort of rain dance or jump on one foot in a circle 3 times to cancel out the jinx i just put on myself – totally biblical btw (not really)) which has been surprising. The fact that i have been really excited to see what’s coming next is also surprising, since i am, in fact, smack dab in the middle of Leviticus. Amid the Biblegateway App glitches (it’s truly terrible) and searching between translations to find the one that flows best, I have found myself pressing through the nothing-less-than-heinous repetition, endless genealogies, and laws that if broken will lead to death – death by stoning, death by fire, death by the earth opening and just swallowing you… (you get the picture) in the middle of all this I have found myself moved by how much God wanted to be near His people. Moved that He set it all up just to be near to us.
and I have found myself asking all the wrong sorts of questions – i mean i say the wrong sort because they are (of course) the sort that is met with with no answer until i pass into the great beyond and meet Sarah face to face and ask her – so how did you feel when Abraham kept passing you off as his sister… and then of course (since i’m actually reading the book through) I find out she actually IS his sister… half sister to be exact. I wonder if i ever knew that. So many questions… that won’t be answered.
Nonetheless, I find myself wanting to get into the hearts and minds of these people who lived so long ago. and i find myself frustrated that i can’t.
I was deeply moved that the dignitaries (and all) of Egypt mourned the death of Israel (Jacob), Joseph’s father, so thoroughly and deeply, making the journey with Jacob and his brothers to the grave Israel requested… although they probably were decreed to and it was custom and all that, still… it was a picture to me of how God makes heart connections and brings people together that ordinarily wouldn’t have anything to do with one another. Then I was as deeply moved, to sadness, when all of Egypt’s men that held the same offices and all of their army was drowned in the Red Sea, because they lost that connection and had enslaved the very people (and their God) responsible for their civilization not being wiped off the face of the earth in a famine. I’ve never felt sad about that before… I guess i’ve just never seen it quite that way. I’ve never made that connection.
God brought the Israelites – the sons and daughters of Israel (Jacob) out of slavery only after pressing them so hard on all sides that they wouldn’t choose any other option. Because he knew, given the chance, they would run back into the arms of treachery rather than find their way through such a harrowing wilderness, back to a God they didn’t know anymore. How often are we pressed to the point we feel we will be crushed to certain death, only to look up and find we have made our way into a place promised to us that we would have never otherwise claimed. I’ve been brought out… several iterations of this through my life, actually… and if not for the Great, unbearable pain and pressure, i would have never left the old (even if mostly uncomfortable) place where He found me – the place he had first led me to. Just like Joseph. He allows grief to thorn, prod and uproot us. It’s called mercy.
Like the Israelites in Egypt, I think I’m engrossed in my culture and popular opinion to the point that it takes a great deal of pressure to move me out of the places i settle into… especially the places where I can look around and deem it “good”…
Anyway, here I go. Forging ahead into this world of kings and priests and sin and law and grace, ultimately leading to the Savior of the world making His appearance in the flesh, walking among us and changing everything. I fully expect that reading this will change everything for me as well – all over again.