The unfolding of your words gives light;
it imparts understanding to the simple. – Psalm 119:130 (NRSV)
When I met with my spiritual advisor last week, I updated her on the status of my goal of reading the Bible over the summer. I mentioned that I had a few Psalms left and the Gospel of John. After she listened, she commented that finishing sounded like more of an accomplishment than a spiritual discipline. I thought about it and agreed with her.
I don’t think you can read the Bible this quickly in a devotional way, unless that was all one was going to do for three months. The pace is about 10 chapters a day. I did reflect and ask questions, as I read, but I didn’t stop and contemplate a verse (or word) like I usually do when I read the Bible.
Despite this, I think reading scripture’s entirety in a short time was a success. Not successful, as if I were going to be acknowledged, celebrated, or get a gold star. Rather, I met the goal I set for myself. It was not a spiritual discipline in the normal sense, but it did take discipline and commitment to stay with it in a focused way.
I also think it was a success because I now have a picture of scripture that I didn’t have before. When you read this much in a short period of time, themes scream at you. In five minutes* I can’t be exhaustive, but it’s clear to me:
God cares for those in need. You can get a concordance and count how many times we are called to care for the widow, orphan, and immigrant (CEB translation), but I tell you it’s a lot – and it’s pervasive. Just yesterday, someone said to me there will always be the poor among us. It’s true, Jesus says it in Mark 14. But in the context of all of scripture, we can realize Jesus’ words are a condemnation. God doesn’t intend for there to be poor among us. It’s our own misuse of wealth that allows people to be poor. God doesn't intend for there to be poor among us. It's our own misuse of wealth that allows people to be poor. #chooselove #livegenerously Click To Tweet
God cares about the community. Yes, it’s true that God cares for and loves each of us specifically. We see that in Old Testament and New. However, since each of us is created in the image of God, we are created to care for others this way as well. The community lives or dies based on how well we care for one another. When I focus on myself and what I think I deserve regardless of the impact on others, I am in opposition to God. This is true from Genesis to Revelation. Each of us is created in the image of God, we are created to care for others in the same way God does. #loveyourneighbor #everyoneisyourneighbor Click To Tweet
God is relentlessly faithful. I don’t understand how God doesn’t give up on us. We are a rather thankless and short-memoried species. We want to know what God has done for us lately or how God is going to help us now rather than seeing the abundance of provision and care God built into the world. God has uniquely gifted us with some tiny understanding of eternity, but we casually set it aside as we become entranced by each shiny new thing that comes by. Despite all of this, God continues to demonstrate a deep love for us and an open door policy that invites us back when we come to our senses. Despite casting God's love aside, God continues to demonstrate a deep love for us and an open door policy that invites us back when we come to our senses. #faithful #forgiveness #love Click To Tweet
My mission of reading the Bible over the summer was a success. While it might not have been a “devotional” reading, I was able to see consistency and continuity in a way I hadn’t before. I found myself reading familiar texts in new ways because so much of scripture was in my recent memory. I’ll read slower now, but I believe my slow reading will be deeper because of this summer’s sprint. May God bless you in your reading and reflecting, regardless of volume or pace.