Well, I think I am not alone in feeling like that was a long year. And then in some ways, such a short year. And, let’s face it, probably for most of us a pretty bizarre year. But there is no question that it was also not without good. In the midst of chaos and division and even global pandemic, we serve a good God who is always giving good, if we can chose to see it.
Now it is a new year and I want to do something new, with you.
During our first lockdown in Uganda (in March), I was feeling unusually spiritually dry. I restlessly flipped through my Bible, hoping it might just fall open to something that jumped off the page at me. I picked multiple devotionals up off our bookshelves, only to tire of them after a few short days. I need you to speak to me I would whisper to God.
At my husband’s encouragement, our family started a new Bible reading plan. No commentaires, no bells and whistles, just the Word. We started with Genesis, Matthew, Ezra and Acts, reading a chapter of each every day. Some of the reading we did together around the table and some we did in our own quiet time. It only took me about a week to realize that this was what my heart had been craving. It didn’t come with extra commentaries, opinions or explanations. What my heart and been longing for was God’s Word, in much larger pieces than I had read in a long time. And, while I know it might sound cliché, the more I read, the more I wanted. At the end of what had felt like a particularly dry season, thumbing through a Bible I felt I had read a hundred times, asking God to please make it new and exciting to me again, I was suddenly hungry for these large chunks of time in His Word like I hadn’t been in a very long time. Because He hears the prayers of our weary hearts. Because He longs to be near His people, to remind us of His love for us.
As I read, I couldn’t get over the very obvious truth that the character and magnificence and love of God remained the same through Genesis, Ezra, Matthew and Acts. And then later through Exodus, Nehemiah, Mark and Romans, and so on. While these passages weren’t intentionally selected to “go together,” so often a theme or aspect of God’s character jumped out of each passage as if they had been hand-picked in some kind of topical index. There it was, the Word of God, and my loving Father the same, yesterday, today, and forever. God’s character seemed to jump off the page at me as if to say, “See! He loves you! He has always loved you! He will always love you!” or “Look! He is merciful, He has always been merciful, He will always be merciful.”
In the midst of a long and weary year, while I was looking for spiritual encouragement from reading about other people’s encounters with God and other people’s opinions or interpretations of His Word, my old, worn, falling apart Bible that I “already knew all the stories in” was waiting for me to come back to the basics, waiting to reveal new facets of God’s character to me. Morning after morning I poured over the Word, filling pages of my garage sale College Ruled spiral notebook with all the evidences of God’s mercy and grace and gentleness and love that were the same to Abraham and to the Isrealites rebuilding the wall and to the Samaritan woman at the well and to Saul the Pharisee who became an apostle. And as if it was all new to me, I stood in awe.
And friends, He is just too good not to share.
So I am going to start over again, back at Genesis, and I would love you to join me.
I wish I could send you all a beautiful journal, but my encouragement would be to get one to keep next to you as your read, and jot down things that stand out to you.
Each Monday, I will post what we are reading for the week with a few encouragements that jump out to me and sometimes a few questions to challenge us. My prayer is that you would be filled with joy in His Word like never before, and stand with me in awe of His unchanging, unending love.