Rummaging through boxes of books, I found my first bible. its old, ratty and in spanish, it brought back a ton of memories, chief of which is: I like the Bible. correction, I LOVE the Bible! not because I understand everything in it or because its part of my career, but because it has been the only true constant in life. I don't remember exactly when I became a Christ-follower, but I clearly remember when I fell in love with reading it. I was 8 years old and my sunday school teacher presented me with a full, leather bound bible with my name inscribed in the most magnificent calligraphy I had ever seen, like the one pastors had with them.
Leafing through the worn, tattered and heavily underlined pages of this old bible brought back memories of times of both great joy and great anguish. It reminded me of how I first read it with such innocent eyes, falling in love with the stories of Joseph, Abraham and Moses, the magnificent miracles and signs that the people in this book were allowed to either perform or witnessed was thrilling! I didn't understand most of it, of course and the books such as Numbers, Leviticus or any of the prophet's writings didn't make sense to me and even made me afraid to read them; However, there were also many promises, life lessons and yes even humour! oh, and there was hope, always full of hope.
Its always so astounding how a person can change so much and yet the words written in this book never get old. I'm a reader. If you are a reader like myself, you will most often be found with your nose in some kind of book, or you'll have one in your car, your back pack or in your office. whenever you pass by a bookstore you'll spend hours looking through books losing all track of time and probably walking out with a few to read later. In fact we buy so many, family members have considered having an intervention to help us through our pulp adiction. The thing about readers like us though is that once we've read a book, we can pretty much remember what its about and the premise of it by just looking at a cover, we tend to read them once or twice and unless its a classical master piece we tend to move on to the next book in the stack we keep on our nightstand.
Its not so with the Bible. you can read the same story, chapter or verse several hundred times and it never gets old. Something new always pops up at the most unexpected and perhaps even necessary times in life. I heard someone say once that the Bible is like a diamond, its one of the hardest substances in the world, and if you were to look at light bouncing of it as you turn it, you would never see it refract the same way. So it is with the scriptures, you can look at a verse from the many angles of a life-span and it will never look the same. Its unlocked by the Holy Spirit as our faith grows so that we glean more and more from it.
Do you remember what it was like to read the Bible for the first time? I hope it was not a chore for you, its always sad to hear from people that they were forced to read the scriptures at some point in their lives. Im sorry that happened to you, it was never meant to be forced on anyone. Did you give up reading it because you didn't understand what was written? I encourage you to seek help from a friend or a pastor or even take in some bible college classes, and there is this tool called the "internet" which has a wealth of aids to help you read it and more importantly, understand it. Just don't stop reading it, even if you only understand one verse or one idea behind a chapter that is a feat in it self. Don't worry, God is not keeping score of who's memorized the most verses or who has read it cover to cover. its not about what you can do with it, its about how it changes your heart.
Let me leave you with a bit of a caution. I know we live in the 21st Century, the information age, where we can carry whole libraries in our smarphones or tablets, which is a great blessing. I also know that there are great Bible apps out there that can be very convenient for our lives, I use them, and there is nothing wrong with them, but I can't help but think that we may be robbing future generations of the opportunity to scribble all over their first bibles and discover helpful thoughts brought about by the spirit of God at a moment of need. all for the sake of convenience. If you are like me, you've also ran across the temptation to check your facebook or Twitter when you're reading your bible app during a service, after all no one will notice if you do.There was a time when to carry a Bible was a badge of honour, it told the world that you were a Christ follower and you were not ashamed to show it.
I want to challenge you next time you're at church to perhaps bring the good old leather bound book (of which most house holds own 6-7 copies, but that's another blog for another time) and perhaps a pad of paper, or a journal and write up what the pastor preaches on a particular chapter. underline the verses, write quick thoughts in the margins or in the back, you never know when something your wrote will help someone, it may even be you. Carry it around, perhaps it will spark a conversation with a complete stranger who is seeking God or needs comfort. At very least, carry it to honour the thousands of saints who died so that you could have one in your own language and to honour the hundreds of thousands in countries where the Bible is outlawed, and where Christians would die to have a piece of paper with a single verse to call their own. (if a christian community gets a bible in these countries, they usually tear it to pieces and each person gets a piece and they trade with each other once they have read and memorized their portion. this is just incase they face a raid in church and their bible is taken away and destroyed.) Most importantly of all, read it like there is no tomorrow, savour it, meditate on the words, do your best to follow what it says, they are the words of God after all.