In May 2008, I started something that I did not know would change my life forever. I'd heard that doing this would not bring me closer to God. They said doing this would only confuse me. Against that advice, I started anyway. One year later, this singular act held me through one of the hardest events of my life.
What did I do in May 2008? I started reading the One Year Bible.
For years, I had done devotionals that gave me a scripture a day. I read a little information from the devotion author that gave me their perspective of what the highlighted scripture meant. Often, however, by the end of the day, I would forget the scripture I read that morning. The next day, I'd read another and the cycle continued.
Many times, I wrote the devotional scripture down and tried really hard to memorize it. When I would need that scripture later, for the life of me, time and time again, my mind would fail to recall the words. When the words came, the order would be off. In the end, I just couldn't remember the scripture, and I would be left to use some world cliche to help me through.
Sure, sermons and Sunday school class lessons helped me to understand biblical stories, but I realized I needed context. I wanted to learn about God for myself. I wanted His Word to mean something down to the very depths of me. I wanted to be like Moses - I wanted to know God's ways and His mind, not merely His acts.
So, I began reading the Bible from Genesis 1:1's "In the Beginning God" through to Revelation 22:21's "Amen." In May, 2009, I finished. Do you know what I did to celebrate that feat? I started all over again. I'm glad I did. Because on June 6, 2009, my mom died. I felt like my foundation had shifted beneath my feet, except it didn't. The next day, in my One Year Bible, the scripture taught me this:
"Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people both now and forevermore." (Psalm 125:1-2 NIV)
Though the world around and below me was shaking, I was reassured that I was set high on the mount of my God, and I was being kept by Him. God proved to me through His Word that the whole of the Bible stood there as a strong, everlasting foundation for every aspect of my life. Each story I followed from day to day, each character who's birth, life and death I experienced taught me of the everlasting, unshakable love of God. The love that had been where I was and yet endured. So, I too could endure.
Knowing the whole of the Bible worked for me, because as I learned about myself while studying for the Bar exam, extracting bits and pieces of concepts do not lead me to an understanding of the whole. Instead, for me, learning of the whole picture, seeing it from the "fifty-foot view" as they say, teaches me the significance of the nuggets. Knowing how Isaac relates to Joseph, to Pharaoh, to Shiphrah and Puah, to Moses, to Joshua, to Caleb, and etc., the Bible became my companion. One big story full of intrigue, drama, mystery, carnage, illness, war, peace, romance, and love. Oh, love! God's incredible love for my ancestors, my parents, my siblings and me. I could now see where I fit in the story of Sarah's laughter, and Ruth's determination. I felt the astonishment of Mary in front of Gabriel, and I journeyed with Paul from Stephen's stoning to Damascus and his final departure in Rome. Day after calendar day, the Lord built upon my knowledge of the day before. With that knowledge, He imparted wisdom. With wisdom, each day, I became more courageous and bold in responding to life's daily situations and circumstances, because I had already seen them in the Bible. I knew that I would win because I saw how the victory was won.
And to think, all of this happened in one year!
As the years of your life add up, one after another, how are you ensuring your growth in wisdom and in the knowledge of God and His grace? What's strengthening you and giving you a firm hold of God's promises? Of course, reading the Bible in one year may not be for you. It takes discipline and commitment. But if you are ready for a new intimacy with God through His Word, and new victories everyday, give it a try.
Be Well, Be Blessed, Trust the Savior,
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