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Posts Tagged ‘daily bible reading’

I recently did something I have been putting off for years. With great regret, I at last steeled myself enough to throw my much-loved and much-used NIV bible I have had since somewhere in the middle 1980s into the bin. In one way, it felt as if I was throwing part of me out along with it. My hands had held that deep red cover so often that a lot of the fake leather had worn off and my fingers had turned some of those pages so much that the corners were ripped, with one or two having disappeared altogether.

Now many might think, ‘Why all that fuss? It’s just an old book!’ And at one level, that is true. After all, it is not the book itself that is sacred but rather the words it contains—and they can be found just as well in my brand-new, more recently translated NIV bible I received at Christmas or in any other bible. And yet … and yet …

You see, that old bible symbolised so much to me in so many different ways. It was my companion through countless amazing times in my life, as well as hugely difficult ones. I carted it with me to all sorts of places—on camps and retreats, away on holidays, to lectures at theological college, to nearby parks to sit and reflect, to places where I spoke. When it finally become too risky to use while speaking somewhere because it threatened to fall apart on me, I let it rest on my desk beside my laptop and bought another copy to take with me instead. And there my favourite, old bible has remained for many years now as I have written several more books and many blogs. I have read it each day, then left it lying open so I could look over at any time and be reminded of what God had said to me as I read. And sometimes that re-read turned into a little prayer, either whispered or spoken aloud—perhaps for perseverance in writing or in preparing a message to speak somewhere or as intercession for someone else.

As well as featuring occasional finger-marked and dog-eared corners, some of the pages of that old bible also contained verses I had underlined or highlighted with a little line at the side. At times, I had even put an exclamation mark beside some words that had particularly impacted me or left a brief comment there in tiny letters. And I had read some passages so often that I could visualise where the words I wanted to find were on the page before I even looked them up—so much so that even my other NIV bible of the same vintage did not seem quite right to me at first.

Yet, I know I will soon become used to this other bible now open on my desk. I am familiar with its wording and will keep my more recent Christmas NIV for speaking somewhere. Whichever bible I use, it is still God’s precious Word that I look forward to exploring again in the year ahead and finding great wisdom and encouragement in its pages. And I hope you do too.

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. Psalm 119:105

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Lately, God seemed to have fallen into the habit of getting my attention in unexpected and very interesting ways.  Last week, I shared how a friend sent me an encouraging poem just for me about resting in God’s love at exactly the same time as I was putting similar thoughts into words in the book I am currently writing. I had hardly had time to get over that when God snuck up on me again and caught me by surprise. I guess some might say these were happy coincidences, but from my perspective, they sure have a lot of the hallmarks of God about them.

It’s my habit to read a psalm each day as well as some other part of Scripture. Whenever I get through all one hundred and fifty of them, I start all over again. It’s never boring – there is always something to encourage or challenge me in each one of them. Recently, I started my psalm journey yet again, just at a point in writing my current book when I was feeling particularly vulnerable. This book deals with some aspects of my own spiritual journey and thus involves checking back in my journals I have kept over many years now. I was up to a spot where I had written some rather doleful entries at a difficult and draining time of my life. It brought back many memories – I could feel those dark emotions I was reading about stirring in me all over again and beginning to take over, just as they had then.

This was not good, I realised. I knew I needed to identify with how I was feeling then in order to write about it well – but not to the extent of taking it all on board again. So I picked up my bible and quickly turned to the Psalms. I found I was up to Psalm Three – and straight away, verse three caught my attention:

But you are a shield around me, O Lord; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head.

Yes, I said to myself – God was my shield at that time and did ‘lift up my head’! And God will do that again for me now as I write this book and protect me from getting too ‘bogged down’ in it all.

Then I resolutely turned to my old journal again. Here were some entries from 2002 when I was on leave for four weeks. I had written out a prayer, part of which read: Lord, I feel like I have been in a ‘far country’, away from the enjoyment of your presence. But I’m on the way home now. … I feel you know my great weakness and understand.  …Turn me around – show me the way forward from here.

I continued reading. The next journal entry was two days later. All I had written was – Psalm 3:3!

 But you are a shield around me, O Lord; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head.

I gasped out loud. God spoke to me then through these words. And now God has spoken to me again – about the very same thing through the very same words.

Anyone would think God knows what is happening in my life at any given point – even what I’m writing about! Anyone would think God is loving and faithful and mighty and comforting and encouraging!

Are you anyone?

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