Just about a year ago my friend and co-pastor Mike Klassen launched a plan to ask our church (The Neighborhood Church) and an on-line community to read through the Bible in a year and augment that reading with a daily devotional blog. I joined him as a co-writer in the spring and only then realized what a crazy commitment Mike had made. It has been an honor to participate and I am thankful for the opportunity.
Four things I’ve learned:
1. I am a slug.
Though I will limp across the finish line with all of you on December 31, I missed too many readings to actually have anyone hang a ribbon on me. As Paul admitted in Romans 7, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”
I admire and applaud those of you who ran the complete race.
I also realized my ineptness when trying to communicate what I thought I heard God saying in the readings I did complete. Writing anything daily is difficult, much less trying to accurately plumb the depths of God’s interaction with us as recorded in Scripture. I am glad God is a God of grace and that his love covers the multitude of my sins.
2. God is often inscrutable.
Try as I might, there were many passages of Scripture that were beyond me. From beginning to end, difficult passages abound. Who were Adam and Eve? Why does Cain kill Able and why does God respond the way he does? And how can a book titled Revelation reveal so little?
Overall, however, throughout the year, I became more comfortable with my limits and God’s limitlessness. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. Isaiah 55:8 I like knowing God is bigger and smarter than I am.
What continues to confound, though, is why God puts up with us. There seems no end to our ignorance and cruelty. No one and nothing escapes. The best biblical characters are deeply flawed (David). And we are so filled with fear we crucify him of perfect fearless love. Fortunately, we were not able to kill that love.
3. God rarely remains mute.
Some days I wrestled with apathy. I skimmed the surface of the Scripture reading. What does one more intricate description of the size of the tabernacle have to do with my life?
This is supposed to be the most important and powerful book ever written. I expected it to turn my life upside down not lull me to sleep.
After all “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work,” Paul tells Timothy. But does that mean the Bible is magical?
Not for me. The Bible functioned more like a year’s worth of meals, some spicy, spectacular, and memorable others bland, forgettable but nutritious. God spoke daily, sometimes quietly, sometimes in a language I did not know. But I look in the mirror and I am not the same as this time last year, especially on the inside.
4. God will finish the story.
Maybe that was the biggest lesson for me. Every biblical story connects to the next and through them God moves through history right into 2010, right into my life. We may not understand each twist and turn of the plot but we can hear the Narrator’s voice in each chapter. God uses the conflicts and disappointments of the story to change us, the characters. The story is not finished but God will finish it. Paul reminds his friends the Philippians, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
May that be true for each of us.
Thanks for growing with us.
Eugene C. Scott joins Mike in writing A Daily Bible Conversation twice a week.
TODAY’S READING (click here to view today’s reading online)