I’m pretty consistent about reading my Bible. Not perfect, mind you. Sometimes life gets in the way, sometimes I get distracted. For the most part, though, I try to read at least a chapter (or more, if they’re short or in Numbers) every morning. I always imagine it as God and I sitting down over a cup of tea, having our own little tête-à-tête.
Recently I’ve been rereading the gospels, first Matthew, then John. Pen and straight edge in hand (I’m a bit compulsive about neat annotations), I was underlining verses that particularly spoke to me, inscribing comments in the margin to remind myself later of what I was learning.
After a number of weeks, I’ve finally reached the climax of the story, Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. And it was at this point, the most important chapters in the whole gospel, that I suddenly realized I was bored. Bored! How could I be bored about God dying in my place? I was horrified. Still, I’ve read these passages so many times before. I know what they say, what it means. I was bored because I wasn’t learning anything new. I realized it was all an intellectual exercise.
I was reading the Bible like a textbook. Just the facts, ma’am.
I put down my pen and closed my Bible. Then I began to pray. I apologized to God for treating his word like an instruction manual, a sort of Christian Wikipedia. I asked Him to breathe life into my reading. Softly, his reply took shape in my mind. “This is my love letter to you. Read it and remember how much I care.”
When Pete and I started dating, we lived 300 miles apart. (I had just moved away to start grad school.) With classes, homework, and other commitments, we could only arrange to see one another about once a month. Email and texting did not yet exist. Long distance calls were expensive. The only affordable option was to write letters. Snail mail—words scribbled by hand on a piece of paper, stuffed into an envelope, stamped, and shoved through the slot in a mailbox.
We wrote one another almost every day, keeping up a continual stream of messages that took three days to reach their destination. I accumulated a box full of letters from Pete. On days when nothing arrived, I’d get out the old letters and reread them. In fact, I still do that. Yes, I’ve kept every one!
I appreciate Pete’s writing even more now that I know him better. Pete is not a letter-writing kind of guy. That weight of paper is testimony to his love for me.
And the Bible is God’s love letter to us. To me. We don’t get bored reading love letters. We pore over them again and again, memorizing every phrase. We look for meaning in each nuance, each carefully chosen word.
I went back to the passage in John where I was first convicted and read it anew, keeping in mind that it was God telling me how much he loves me. I was not bored.