>by Robin Schmidt
I bought a One Year Chronological Bible at the end of last year. My new year’s resolution was to read through the entire Bible. I even thought I would like to read “ahead” so that I would complete the reading before the holidays this year. I started out strong. I read every day, by the end of January I was into the mid February readings. And then it came to a dead halt. I don’t remember why.
I had enlisted a friend to be accountable with and at the end of February I went to visit her and we decided we would “catch up” with our reading together. So I sat down, poolside in the sunshine and began to read. The trouble was I couldn’t go quickly. There were things to ponder and even to talk about together as we read. But if I am going to read through the entire Bible, I don’t have time to stop and think about it. At this pace I will never catch up!
Reminds me of a song by Alabama:
I’m in a hurry to get things done,
I rush and rush until life’s no fun
All I’ve really got to do is live and die,
But I’m in a hurry and don’t know why.
I still want to read the entire Bible, and I will, but I think now that laying my eyes on every word is not the point. The point, I think, is to lay my eyes on God.
If the Bible could be distilled down to its most basic message you might be able to say it with three words: Look at God.
That is hard to do. Looking at God is what stopped when sin entered the picture. Adam and Eve were looking to hide, not wanting God to see them and not wanting to see him. They stopped walking together.
The book of Joel begins by describing a devastation of the land by locust. What the gnawing locust left, the swarming locust ate, what the swarming locust left the creeping locust had eaten, what they left the stripping locust had eaten.
There was nothing left. Drunks were sober, there was no wine. There was nothing for the animals to eat, nothing to offer on the altar. They were starving. There was nothing.
And the Lord told them to declare a holy fast.
There is no food – not like when your teenager says “there’s nothing to eat.” This is a famine and there is nothing to eat, NOTHING. And God directs the people to declare a holy fast.
Why? Because in a famine you are looking for food, when you are fasting you are looking at God.
When Jesus was walking the earth God the Father spoke audibly twice. Can you imagine? What was that like? I wonder what impact that had on the people who could hear it. God spoke out loud twice.
The first time was when Jesus went to John to be baptized. God said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” At the transfiguration God said the same thing with an addition. John, James and Peter are on the mountain with Jesus and God speaks, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased: listen to Him.”
Listen to Him.
Jesus told Martha that her sister Mary made a better choice. Mary chose to sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to him. Martha was all bent out of shape about everything that needed to be done, but do you know what? Jesus wasn’t going to talk forever. It’s not like his life was one long monologue. He would eventually stop teaching and then they could get a meal together. Martha had a choice: stay all hot and bothered or stop and listen first and then work later.
Be still and know that I am God. It is hard to be still. It is hard to listen. But it is a choice, and remarkably it is available for anyone. So, what’ll it be? Fast or Famine?
>I thought Phil’s sermon yesterday was really interesting, and along these same lines. Plus, who knew that the musicians would be on the front line! Makes me feel good about all those kickboxing lessons…:) heather
>I started a “read through the Bible in a year” program – oh….about 4 years ago. I’m about halfway through. I started with a friend to be accountable to each other. She has read it through 5 times now.I cheer her on – it has been a great journey for her both in obedience and spiritually. She has gained much from her reading. she isnt reading it superficially. she is cross referencing and looking up Greek and Latin word origins. she is truly “studying” the Bible.At first I felt very inadequate that I was getting so far behind. Then I prayed and laid it down. I felt strongly that it doesnt matter how long the journey takes, it matters that I am on the journey. Like you said Robin, sometimes you need to just stop and take it in and not be held by a timetable. Still other times, life gets in the way and a couple days (or weeks)go by and suddenly I realize I havent been reading or have only been able to read a small portion of that days assigned reading.My friend has a different life than mine with different opportunities and expectations. Both our lives were ordered by God to be just the way they are. So – I’m sure He is blessing my reading just as he blesses hers.Robin, I’m glad you shared this and I’m even more glad that you shared how you fell short of your expectations. If even YOU fell short, that makes me feel better! :-)Kim Dennis
>You’ve given us yet another wonderful example of the upside-down gospel of Jesus Christ. Untold riches are available to us, not if we work harder, but if we seek first the kingdom of heaven. We’re strongest when we’re weak. We gain life by losing it. And we’re fed when we fast. Through the lens of our society, this is craziness – that’s why the choice is so hard. But when you choose as Mary did, you will never, ever want to be in Martha’s shoes again.
>Thanks for writing this.