Saturday, February 27, 2016
READING THE GOOD BOOK THROUGH by Laura L. Valenti
The lyrics of one of Tim McGraw's songs speaks of a man who gets the chance to "live like you were dying". He relates how in the next several months he tried sky diving, mountain climbing, went a few seconds on a rodeo bull and read the Good Book. Well, I chose to skip the first three but I have enjoyed the adventure of reading the Good Book and just finished it again this week.
Years ago, I went to a church that offered the opportunity during the first week of January to "make this the year you read the whole Bible." They encouraged their members to do so by passing out monthly reminder papers that showed exactly which and how many chapters to read each day to accomplish this feat. Like many others, I eagerly took one of the papers at the beginning of the year but with four kids at home, by the end of January or the beginning of February, when the next paper was handed out, I was so hopelessly behind I could never catch up. After 'failing' at this endeavor a couple of years in a row, I figured out, getting the whole Bible read in a year's time, was not the important part. The real accomplishment was reading it through, no matter how long it took. So about the third or fourth year, the church offered this challenge, I took my papers but didn't worry when I couldn't finish within the prescribed time limit. I just kept reading, little by little and finished the Bible for the first time, within about two years instead of one.
In doing so, I read chapters I never knew existed and discovered many more I'd heard quoted often but never really understood their context, exactly where they came from or what they were all about. I found quotes I never realized were Biblical, things I'd heard my late mother say many times over the years, and realized once again, how much better read and educated she was than I had ever known during her lifetime.
I learned about the 'writing on the wall' as written about in the book of Daniel and that while the Scriptures did instruct women to 'submit to their husbands', the very next verses cautioned the husbands to 'revere their wives' and lay down their lives for them as Christ did for his church. I learned once again that what Jesus asked most of all was that we love God and love one another and that if we did that, everything else would fall into place.
Since then I've heard of another way to 'read the Bible through' and I've followed and enjoyed it, completing another complete reading three or four times through. Using three book marks, place one at the beginning of Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament, one at the beginning of the Book of Job and one at the first chapter of Matthew, the first book of the New Testament. Then, on the first day, read the first chapter of each of those books and continue to read three chapters daily, from these three very different portions of the Bible and the lives and history of the Jews, from which all of Christianity comes. In doing it this way, when you find yourself reading a part of the Bible that tends to make your eyes cross--like parts of Leviticus or Chronicles--you know the next chapter in another book, will be much more interesting or at least, understandable! In doing so, I've read the Bible several more times and look forward to doing it again.
The Bible is an amazing compilation of history, rules to live by and perhaps, most significant of all, the stories of other people's lives and how their experiences can impact the lives of others, even thousands of years later. I once heard it said, if you know someone whose Bible is falling apart, like as not, their life is not. I like that. I think it's time to look for three brand new book marks and start reading again.