I’ve mentioned before about when I felt spiritually dehydrated, and how my Mom helped me get back on track. Well, she has her own incredible experience with the Bible! She wrote this a couple of weeks ago, and I knew as soon as I read it that I needed to share it here.
This is my Mom’s journey in reading the Bible, or rather experiencing the Bible. Her journey turned into so much more than just reading!
But rather than tell you her story, I’ll let you read it for yourself. This is Sandy’s journey!
In March of this year (2016) I was invited by my daughter, Ashley, to read along with an online group, Good Morning Girls, hosted by the website ministry, Women Living Well, who were going to read the New Testament book of Mark. I said yes, and gathered my Bible and coloring pencils, because they color-code their Bibles and I wanted to try it.
They read one chapter a day, keeping it light and easy for busy mothers. I enjoyed the reading and the discussions and insights shared freely by other women who were reading along. It was nice, but what I didn’t know was that God had another plan for me.
When the book of Mark was complete, they announced what the next book would be, Deuteronomy. I thought, wow, I have never read that book before, and it’s the last book of the first five books of Moses, so…I probably should read the book that comes before it, so I understand where Deuteronomy is beginning. So I did, I read through Numbers.
I found that Numbers isn’t all about Numbers! The word Numbers means “in the dessert” in Hebrew! It tells about the Israelites journey from Mount Sinai to the plains of Moab, on the border of the Promised Land. It is the “rest of the story” of the 40 years they wandered in the wilderness! I had never read this before!
Back to reading Deuteronomy. By now, the group was ready to begin. I read the first chapter and found that I wanted to also read the second chapter and the third. I was finding it hard to be patient and read one a day. By the end of the first week, I had read the whole book!
Wow, what a book! It tells about the last opportunity for Moses to preach to the new generation of Israelites, before they entered the Promised Land. He had a lot of reminding to do.
I had come to the end of Deuteronomy, and got to thinking. I had never read (most of) my Bible before, including Leviticus, which came right before Numbers. If Numbers was about the wilderness years, there must be some interesting things happening in Leviticus. So I decided to read that next. I was right!
So now, I had read three of the first five books of my Bible. I looked at Genesis and said to myself, “I know I have read this before, many times. It’s my favorite book. I don’t need to read it again.” Then I looked at Exodus. This was the story of Moses finally leading the Children of Israel out of Egypt, and into their future. I knew this story, everyone knows this story. I don’t need to read this….
So I read Genesis and Exodus! I had to laugh at myself, I read through all five books of Moses, in reverse order! Who is crazy enough to do that…? me.
This all happened in a matter of a couple of weeks, I was hooked, and excited to read most of it for the first time! I asked myself so many times, WHY didn’t I read all this before? The answer I gave myself was stubbornness and pride. ” I already know it, so I don’t need to read it.” What a fool I was.
Then my foolishness continued. On the Women Living Well website, they have materials you can print to aid in your studies. I found one that was a check list of all the books of the Bible, and each book had individual little boxes for each chapter! My motivation became a challenge to read all the books of the Bible in order to check off all the boxes.
It is said that Gods ways are not our ways, but He will use our silly challenges and selfish motivations to reach us, teach us and change us. Little did I know His plan was for me to finally READ MY Bible!
So there I was, ready to read the next book, Joshua. I had all the Israelite history, up to this point, fresh in my mind. I was ready to move forward and learn what I had been missing.
You see, I had come to realize I had missed an awful lot of the history in the first five books, between my negligence to read it, and depending on what I had been taught all my life in church. They teach much of it, but over time, they become stories we take for granted, and in some cases, they get confusing. My own daughters told me recently that they never knew that Jacob who married Rachel and Leah was the same Jacob from the Jacob and Esau story. The two stories were never told together and seemed unrelated.
There were many stories that, after reading these five books, I knew were connected, but I wanted to know it in order, so I could see the relationships and understand the history correctly. I knew what I needed to do.
Years ago, I bought the Tyndale One Year, New Living Translation Chronological Bible. It is awesome, in that the whole Bible is arranged in chronological order. I knew this would be a great Bible version to read, until I missed my NIV Archaeology Study Bible too much. I found at the back of the One Year Bible, the daily readings were listed on a few pages, so I photocopied them out and made myself a booklet. Now I had the organized daily readings, in chronological order. I found my book and chapter boxes check list, and checked it off. I had my chronological order booklet and checked it off too! Now I was ready to read Joshua.
Judges and Ruth were next. It didn’t take long before the chronological reading guide had me turning between two or three books to read the whole story. It was fun, and fascinating. I was happy when I made it through the book of Job, and enjoyed it! I had always figured it was beyond me, I have tried to read it before. Now I know better, it is no longer beyond my reach!
I decided to read the Bible in chronological order and realized it was ME that made it beyond my reach. It was always there, I just didn’t reach for it.
I proceeded to read through the Old and was finished by mid-July. I couldn’t believe I had read so much in so short a time. I had always figured reading the Bible through, let alone in less than a year, was something I could never do. I was thrilled!
Next I wanted to read the New Testament. I was so looking forward to reading all four gospels IN ORDER, and I was not disappointed! What I did differently this time, was to also read through the Messiah by Jerry D. Thomas, an adaptation of Ellen G. White’s the Desire of Ages. I did my best to read it in chronological order too, which was a little tricky, but it worked!
I finished reading the four Gospels, and am now reading the rest of the New Testament while following along in Mrs. White’s Acts of the Apostles.
The most important part of all my reading has been this: Always stop and pray before reading anything. I have tried to read so many times, without prayer, and it never meant anything to me. I didn’t remember what I read, I didn’t see how it was important, I couldn’t ‘apply it to my life.’
So many things now make sense to me. I don’t feel like I have to miss out on what the Bible says, I don’t have to rely on what others tell me it says, and I CAN understand it for myself. God showed me that it is…
No Longer Beyond My Reach!
Have you ever felt that understanding the Bible was just something beyond your reach? Have you had trouble reconciling the God of the Old Testament with the Jesus of the New Testament?
Mom has been impressed to share her experience reading through the Bible with others and is putting together a ministry of sorts. What she has so far is exciting! I’ll share more about what she’s putting together and how she’s wanting to share it with others in a future post.
Would you be interested in a free reading plan to read through the Bible chronologically?
Would you like more information about what Sandy is working on before I feature her next?