I had a lot of thoughts at the beginning of the year, as one does. Thoughts about goals and habits to make and break. I wrote this long list, a manifesto, of all that I could and would do in 2014. But it was about a week into the year when I thought, "Wait, what do these things matter if I still feel as confused and distant from God as I did this time last year? What's the point of writing my first novel or reading this certain list of books when I haven't actually even read the entire Bible? What is going on here?"
I have a lot of things I still want to do and make with my hands and say, "Look what I learned how to do this year!" But, after an exhausting day early in the year of trying to figure out how to do all the things and make all my wildest dreams come true, I made a decision. I said to myself, "You know, if I accomplish nothing else besides reading through the Bible this year, that'll be enough."
There are words in my head begging to be written, songs I want to learn to play, people to invite to dinner and projects to complete for the apartment. Check, check, check off my list. But I'm trying to let God be the center of it all by immersing myself in his story, letting it challenge and move me and stretch my imagination. Stretch my image of who God is.
I have no idea where, exactly, I should be in the Bible if I want to finish it by December 31. No clue. I'm not following a plan or doing anything special, I'm just reading it straight through. Cover to cover. But right now I'm in 1 Kings, smack dab in the middle of all those favorite stories of the Old Testament. The Bible, though I've read most of it in bits and pieces since I could read, is surprising me everyday. Some of the stories made me cry - when Esau runs to his brother Jacob and embraces him? It tore me up as if I'd never heard the story before. Some of it has made me laugh out loud, the deep throaty kind when you're totally caught by surprise. Seriously, parts of Judges are downright comical.
But what's really taken me by surprise is how much I get lost in these stories, the ones I so often skimmed past. How everything changes when I can see myself in the story, which helps me to see God at work in my own story. It's exhilarating.
There are so many voices in Christian culture, so many good and true voices, thoughts, ideas, methods. But as I'm learning to truly study the Bible, I can't help but think This is all we need. Why haven't I really read the Bible for myself before? Why have I relied on pastors and cute devotional books instead of the Holy Spirit, who wants to breathe life into his Word and make it come alive in me.
I'm embarrassed that, at almost twenty-five, this is all so exciting and new for me. But, if you're feeling stuck and uninspired, be encouraged that it can become exciting and new for you, too. Just ask him.