I’ve read a lot of random books in the past few weeks. I gritted my teeth as I read about Aron Ralston cutting through his arm to save himself from his boulder prison in Between a Rock and a Hard Place. I LOL-ed constantly at David Sederis’ wit in Me Talk Pretty One Day. I was shocked and disgusted at the abuse one woman suffered in being in a fundamental polygamist cult in Escape.
But I haven’t really read much of the bible. Sometimes I just don’t want to at all. It is not because I am avoiding God, or because I believe I can attain truth elsewhere, I really just haven’t wanted to read it.
I know it is truth and I know it is life and it would probably make me feel stronger and believe deeper, but I still wonder if I should force myself to do something when I don’t know why I am doing it.
I used to read the bible out of obligation. It seems like a different lifetime, but I felt God would be pleased with me, that I would be a better Christian.
At times I would read it because I would get an emotional high out of it.
I guess I want to be sure of my reasons behind doing things. I have become the kind of person that doesn’t like to do things, “just because,” especially when it comes to my faith in Jesus.
Things must have meaning, and the meaning must be specific and deeply personal. I cannot steal someone else’s meaning.
Formulas make me angry,
“Just do this, and you will fill-in-the-blank.”
In fact, when I hear that, it makes me not want to do it even more.
Maybe I am rebellious, selfish, lacking discipline? Who knows.
At least I am being honest.
At times, revisiting certain parts of the bible feels a little like going back to a place in my hometown where bad things happened with an ex-boyfriend. Sure, the place itself is harmless, beautiful even, but there are negative things that happened there that are seared in my memory.
Me: “I heard a silly rumor that you slept with her. Ridiculous! My friend who told me was obviously drunk.”
Sharp pain. Me leaping out of the truck and running into the cold dark woods, throwing myself on the snow. Betrayal.
Maybe I am dramatic, but at times parts of the scripture feel like this. Painful to read. I was betrayed into thinking I wasn’t enough. That I had to do more, pray more, memorize more scripture, give until I sweat and bleed because Jesus gave everything, so shouldn’t I?
I know it’s stupid to throw out the whole thing and I haven’t. Thankfully, I have had a revelation of God’s love and grace and that changed everything.
But there are days when it feels like it hasn’t. Days when I don’t see what the point of going to church, when it just makes me frustrated. Days when I don’t want to read the bible or talk to God.
Then I am reminded, this is not a religious step-by-step process, this is a relationship.
Relationships are messy. They ebb and flow. Even in the best relationships there are times when I get selfish, when I honestly don’t want to hear what the other person is saying. There are times when I don’t feel like communicating. The monotonous times are sometimes the most difficult to overcome, but thankfully this isn’t all about what I do.
I think I underestimate how much God understands and knows where I am at. He understands and knows my heart and He’d rather me be honest then go through the motions.
I know the bible is considered a sword, but it is also our Comfort. I know it tells me where I am when I am lost. I know it tells me who I am when I can’t bear to look at myself in the mirror.
Besides all that, is it poetry. It capture the essence of humanity, love, danger, ultimate redemption. It is our story.
So maybe that’s a good reason to read it.
Because God is love and Love doesn’t stay silent. It must have a voice.
And so I will choose to ignore the ghosts of my past feelings of guilt and condemnation. I will know God is not pleading me to open the book so I can use it as a sword, the war had already been won.
He just wants to tell me a story.
A story that defines me, that shapes the world around me.
A story that breathes life into all things.