Summer is upon me. And, after 24 years of working in an academic institution, I think I’m finally starting to feel the rhythm of doing a whole new thing in the summer. Many of my weekly routines cease for three months – and after 24 years – it is truly a welcomed break. I’ve never been one to enjoy a routine for any length of time – ever eager to mix it up. I see change as fun and adventurous. Out with the old—in with the new. If I had my way, which I usually do, I’d throw spontaneity in to every single day in some fashion – especially in the summer.
Two years ago – could have been three – I started a summer routine. It’s a wild one, in my opinion:
I read the Bible in its entirety.
Now it’s surely not crazy to read the Bible – but many may think that reading through the Bible in three months is a bit odd. But is it?
The m.o. for most Bible readers is to read three chapters a day and five on Sunday—a year long process—that we should try at least one time in our lives—if not a yearly practice. And that is just fine and dandy for some – but for me it just seemed like a chore. And I have indeed done it that way many times in the past 20 years – mixing it up by choosing a different English translation each time – I’ll have to say, a personal favorite has been The New Living Translation. It’s very readable!
When I decided to read the Bible in a summer – I expected it to be a one time event. You see, I think I was trying to see what it was like to just read it through as quickly as possible – in novel-like-fashion – because I get so tired of hearing how non-believers read through the Bible and find it to be misogynistic and violent—portraying God as some all-powerful-bully waiting for his creatures to break just one commandment so that he could pounce.
Amazing how we see what we focus on – and surely you can find a couple of those instances – like Uzzah and the ark of the covenant (2 Samuel 6:6ff.)
Wow! Really God? What is that all about?
Or … This one really seems very misogynistic (that’s a woman hater): When a husband gets to make his wife eat some bitter dust water if he suspects she has been unfaithful (Numbers 5:12ff) – I’ll have to admit that one is tough. Perhaps that’s the place in the Bible where some would turn and run.
But we are blessed when we don’t run from the hard passages.
I think my passion for this summer Bible reading routine came when a rather angry and hurting fellow mentioned that he read through the Bible and determined that if there was a God, God indeed hated him – and therefore this fellow decided the only thing to do was hate God back. That’s when I decided I wanted to know what it was like to read the Bible in its entirety as quickly as I could – assuming that this is what this fellow did. Wondering to myself – just how long does it take to read it? For me it was three months (with about a two week head start).
Thus began my summer routine and yearly tradition. And I’ll have to say – it’s one I love – one I hope to continue until I’m at least 70. Perhaps at 70 I’ll do something different.
And yes, I’ve started already (it’s still May). I call it my jump start – just to give myself some wiggle room in case there are days when I can’t read ~13 chapters. You realize that’s all you have to read is 13 chapters? That doesn’t seem like a lot, does it?
When I read it like this, I do not see a pouncing-misogynistic-god. I see a lavish, abundant, loving, powerful God – who longs to be in relationship with his creation. I see that every time one of us messes up – he has to change the plan (so to speak) to allow for their messiness. Like Adam & Eve – I don’t focus on them getting kicked out of the garden and the consequences of their disobedience – I see a God making garments for his beloved.
Then in the very next generation we encounter Cain – the murderer. Here’s my take: I see God saying, Come on Cain! You can overcome this sin that is crouching at your door – master it will you?!
You see God made no human puppets – no human robots – they all had a choice – and God was rooting for them to choose Him – of course they didn’t – and again it seems to me like he had to continually lower his expectations of his creatures – protect them from themselves – and give grace until he was grieved to the point of utter destruction. And yes utter destruction came at times. But then there is this verse – pointed out to me by a beloved professor – “will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25)
So as I begin my “speed-read-through-the Bible-routine” for the 3rd time – I read it in light of knowing that the Judge of all the earth indeed does right. That he longs to gather his children even though most of the time they are so un-gather-able. That he never fails – even though his creatures fail at every turn. And that he gives us his Holy Spirit which enables us to be just a little more obedient and a little more gather-able.
I dare you to join me. It is guaranteed to blow your mind when you invite the Holy Spirit to let you read it with fresh eyes.