Like many college students, I was required (forced?) to read great literature from world-renowned writers. I use terms like “required” and “forced” because, at that time in my life, I likely would not have volunteered to read those incredible novels and plays in my spare time.
I often wish that I got as much enjoyment from them in those hectic college days as I do now when re-reading these great works. At that time, many of these “have to” works were simply checklist items to plow through, (hopefully) pass a test on, and then move ahead to the next assignment.
Today, in sermons, lectures, and in conversations, some of these classic works come to mind and are quite useful to me. When I read them or think about them today, over 25 years later, key phrases, characters, and struggles in these classic works are becoming much more meaningful to me.
The works themselves certainly have not changed. Shakespeare’s Hamlet is as melancholy now as he was when I was a teen. Vladimir and Estragon are still “waiting for Godot,” the way they were the last time I read the Samuel Beckett play of the same name. Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird is still today looking for ways to teach his children and his community something about justice, compassion, and truth. These classics and others like them have remained, but I see them differently and care more deeply about them now than I did then.
Perhaps the experiences God has led me through in these last few decades have given me more perspective than I had as a semi-bored and overly busy teenager and young adult. Now I have a connection to these stories and characters.
I think that reading the Bible is that way for me, too. Although the Bible is more than simply a classic work of literature – it is that, of course, but also much more to those of us who follow Jesus – I note a similar phenomenon as the years pass.
Daily Bible readings for me began with a Sunday school teacher who promised to reward our elementary class each Sunday morning if we read our Bibles every day of the week prior. Out of sheer competitiveness, I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss a day reading the Bible so I could get the prize for the week! However, as time went on, and as these initial reading habits continued, I received an even greater prize: the Holy Spirit used this Bible reading to move me closer to Jesus!
Over these past few decades since that Sunday school class, the Bible has become quite familiar to me. However, each time I read and process it based on the journey God continues to lead me on, the words come alive, and the transformation continues.
Do you want to become more familiar with Scripture this year? Would you like to read the Bible more but feel that you already know the stories? Revisit the wonderful gift of the Bible this year and allow the Holy Spirit to connect your journey with the purposes of God found in Scripture! This year, commit to joining the Psalmist in proclaiming, “I have hidden your Word in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (Psalm 119:11).
Prayer for the week:
May the Spirit of all Truth open our minds today as we read and study Your word, and may we be willing to be led into all truth and to be taught what is the will of the Father in each of our lives. Give us willing hearts and the opportunity to share with others the pearls of truth You would teach us today. Through Christ our Lord, Amen. (www.knowingjesus.com)
Charles W. Christian is managing editor of Holiness Today.
Written for Coffee Break with Holiness Today