Bike Riding...Bible Reading
We spilled into our last sabbatical tired and out of shape in every way, physically, emotionally and spiritually. "There are bikes in the shed," they told us. "Help yourselves". Hmmm. Maybe. One day we ventured out, deciding to ride to another town, but, carelessly, not calculating the distance. I remember how grueling it was... on how many hills I had to dismount and push the terrible thing... how painful it was just to walk the next day. Still, we were mighty pleased with ourselves. Twenty-seven miles!
When we'd recovered from the initial shock and could move again, we chose, more carefully this time, another destination. And another. And then another. Thus began a mutual love of biking. When we returned a year later and once again got the bikes from the shed to try our initial route, we shrieked with joy the whole way. Was this ever hard? How could we have thought so?
I remembered this at 7 this morning when I began a run after a long hiatus, and two days before I wanted my jeans to be loose. My jeans won't BE loose by this weekend, but if I don't give up today, there's hope for next weekend. Layering ride upon ride, run upon run, there WILL be progress. The thing is to start, and then to start again.
When our son began to write music, this truth took a different shape. You can't write your tenth song first. It only comes after the first nine, which won't be as good. Don't be discouraged. Keep writing.
And I always want the first coat of paint to be the last. But you almost always have to have a first coat before there's a last.
Now I see that this has been true of studying the Scriptures this whole life long. It is a layering process like everything else. Passage by passage, thought by thought. The more I look, the more I see. And the more I see the microscopic, the DNA, the more I see the whole, the macro...
Joseph, the son of Israel who was rejected by his brothers and sold into slavery in Egypt, there rescues the whole Gentile world from famine. One day his own brothers, themselves now starving, journey into that Gentile world looking for food. Recognizing them and overcome, Joseph stages a reunion. Removing, we assume, his Egyptian 'disguise', and pledging his love and forgiveness, Joseph promises them that God has brought great good from their treachery. I will never forget first hearing this echo in Paul's promise (Romans 11) that the Jewish leadership's rejection of Jesus in the 1st century meant life from the dead for Gentiles. Then Paul promises what we have already seen in the Joseph reunion tableau... that the Jewish brothers of Jesus will one day come, hungry, to the one they cast out. Jesus is longing for that reunion. The macro is in the micro. The universe is in the cell.
The Israelites in the desert found that hoarded manna rotted. They were permitted no bank accounts and no insurance policies. God is enough. He will be tomorrow who He was today. Later, through Jeremiah, God chastises them for digging cisterns next to streams of living water, just in case. God is enough. Will He not be tomorrow who He was today? Jesus' story of the servant who buries his master's investment makes the same point. Of what is the servant afraid? He is afraid that his master will reap where he has not sown. In other words, he is afraid his master will fail to supply him for what he is required to do. It is a warning about our hearts and a golden thread of truth through the whole of Scripture.
The Author of Life is a communicating God who has built His truth into all creation and breathed it into His Word. Passage by passage, thought by thought. The more we look the more we see. His Word is like C. S. Lewis' stable in Narnia, far bigger within than without. The more it is explored, the more vast, and the more thrilling, it proves to be. Nobody will ever really know it. But the more we look the more we'll see. Layer by layer He'll show us what we need to see in His Word, and of Himself.
We learned years ago at Redeemer that many adults shy away from adult education classes or Bible studies because they feel biblically illiterate and fear exposure. I want to apply our bicycle lesson to our Bible reading. Just dust it off and hop on. There's a universe of love and wisdom in the smallest part. Passage by passage, thought by thought. It takes no time at all to be filled with awe.
You can go to this website and print out a Bible reading schedule. Don't worry where you start. Just start! Don't worry if you get behind. Just pick up where you left off! Some people like to read Old and New Testament selections together. Some like to read a book at a time. Choose whatever you like, just choose and begin!
Before you read each day, ask God to speak to you through His Word. As you are reading, ask Him to show you the heart of the passage and how it applies to your life. Some days will feel more vibrant than others. No worries, just persevere!
He will answer you!