How do you read?

Monday, October 29, 2012

For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by people who can read a portion of text and discover this incredible hidden truth or bigger picture.  For a long time, this realization would happen in school.  My teachers could read a book and come up with all of these crazy hidden meanings. I could read the same book (not that I actually read them very often) and never in a million years come up with those ideas.  For example:  When my teacher tried to convince me that the book Animal Farm was about communism, I just could not see it.  To me, the book was nothing more than some animals talking. Period.

I've never been big on reading, and I think a lot of that stems from the fact that I'm a surface reader.  I have a hard time seeing these bigger pictures or discovering a larger meaning in the text.  I read what I read, and get the obvious picture. It is very rare that I can break it down into something more.

Recently, I've seen this become more evident during my quiet time.  While in High Point a few weeks ago, the pastor  broke down a passage in a way I would have never thought to.  The animation and emotion he put into every verse he read, really challenged me to look at the way I read God's word.  For years now I've simply skimmed over a verse, looking for the obvious points. I'd write a little something down and then move on.  And for years, I've had a hard time remembering what I've read let alone applying it to my life.  Reading the Bible had become like everything else I had to read.  I was doing it because I had to, not because I wanted to.  I'd read a verse quickly, get what I thought I needed, and move on.  While that method worked great for getting A's in school, that is not the attitude I should, or want, to have while reading God's word.  

Hearing the excitement in the Pastor's voice as he read, as if he were talking to God himself, was a concept I'd never considered.  While I am still not great at reading this way, I've really tried recently to take more time in the word.  I haven't been reading more verses, but really taking the time to break down and take in each word of the passage I'm reading that day.  Like I said, I'm still not great at it. I'm pretty sure Pastors will always be better at seeing and teaching the bigger truths, but that's what they're there for right?  

This new way of reading has really challenged me to try and grasp the greatness of the words written in the Bible.  For example I looked back over a few of my favorite verse like:

Jeremiah 29:11  "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."  I normally took comfort from this verse seeing that there's a plan for my life; that I'll have a future.  However, I never really took the time to apply or see that it says "I know the plans I have for you."  (That would be God talking in case you didn't catch that.)  That means the HE knows the plans for my life.  Not me, not my parents, not my friends, not the lady at church, no one but HIM.  How often do we try to control and plan our lives out?  I know I'm guilty of this every. single. day.  It's built into our selfish human tendencies to want to control our lives and pretend like we have control over tomorrow. In reality it is God, and only God who knows the plans for our lives.  If we trust Him and lean on Him for understanding and guidance, our future will fall into place just as He planned.  This means that my plans or ideas will not necessarily be how my life plays out.  I must trust God, lean on Him, and align my hopes and dreams with His ways, so that I can live a life that glorifies Him. Then and only then, will I find the hope and future He promises.

And then there's this one:

Romans 11:36 "For everything comes from Him and exists by His power and is intended for His glory.  All glory to Him forever! Amen." How would you read this?  I used to read it as everything is here for and by Him.  However, I never really took the time to understand how massive the word "everything" is here.  Every. Single. Thing.  Exists by God's power for His glory.  Sure, this is easy to accept when you think about all the happy times in life, the beautiful scenes in nature, or the smile on a child's face.  But "everything" also includes heartache, death, pain, insecurity, confusion, etc. It's so easy to read this passage and skim over that part. We can't forget or ignore the harder side of this passage and learn from it.  Everything comes from God, and the sooner I grasp the vastness of that statement the better.  I find so much comfort knowing that even the hard times or the not so beautiful moments come from God too.  They push me to grow, mature, learn, and grow closer to Him.  How often does it take our world falling apart to make us call on God.  Sometimes the hard times are the only way He can get our attention.  Plus, just from looking at my past, I can say that the hard times are the most important and pivotal points in my life. They drew me back to God to make me who I am today.  The hard, ugly, and painful times are never fun but they will always be there.  You and I can take comfort from knowing that they exist by God's power. 

Taking this little bit of extra time has really challenged me.  How do you read the bible?

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